Woman found not guilty of statutory rape, other charges

Published 9:26 pm Friday, December 15, 2017

A 34-year-old woman who was accused of having sex with a 13-year-old minor was found not guilty of those charges Thursday at Troup County Superior Court.

After hours of deliberation, a jury found April Quarles not guilty of aggravated child molestation, child molestation, statutory rape and enticing a child for indecent purposes, according to Senior Assistant District Attorney Melissa Himes. However, Quarles was found guilty of misdemeanor charges for contributing to the delinquency of minors.

The court sentenced Quarles to 27 months to serve 90 days. Quarles will serve 90 days in jail and will then have 24 months of probation, Himes said.

The alleged incident involved three teenagers and occurred in December 2015.

Quarles allegedly took a 13-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy to a lake access point on Upper Glass Bridge Road. The minors told the court Quarles bought them alcohol on Dec. 20, 2015.

Quarles was accused of having sex with the 13-year-old boy, but the minor testified in court he was intoxicated when the alleged incident happened.

One of the key pieces of evidence was a screenshot of a message between Quarles and the 15-year-old female, where she allegedly admitted to the incident.

The 13-year-old boy did not tell any adult about the incident until May 2016.

According to court testimony, Quarles’ name was brought up in a conversation by a friend’s parent in front of the minor, and he then proceeded to tell her his account of what happened. The friend’s mother then told the minor’s mother, and she then went to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office about it.

Quarles was also accused during the trial of purchasing the two teenage boys’ cigarettes and marijuana that night.

Quarles underwent an interview with the sheriff’s office and a polygraph test at the LaGrange Police Department. Once it was determined that she had failed the polygraph, she was arrested in May by the TCSO.

The 12-person jury took about four and a half hours to deliberate, according to Himes.

“There was a period of time during the deliberations where the jury sent out a note, and they were deadlocked. There were several of the jurors who were at least struggling with the sexual offenses, but in the end, they reached their verdict, and we respect that verdict,” Himes said. “We believed in our case and the jury did find her guilty of inappropriate conduct with minor children, and we appreciate the jury’s attention and careful consideration of all the evidence presented. It was a very attentive jury, and I know that they considered everything that was put in front of them.”

Jennifer Curry, Quarles’ attorney, said a problem with the investigation was that the arresting officer had gotten warrants ready before interviewing the defendant.

“Obviously, I’m very happy with the verdict. I had strong feelings about it, especially in the middle of the trial when the arresting officer (said) three times that she just knew my client was guilty and went and got an arrest warrant before she did any investigation,” Curry said. “Law enforcement cannot just take it upon themselves to decide, suspect or hear a crime may be admitted, (then) the person arrested without any other information. So, I’m very satisfied with the verdict, and I hope the jurors heard all of that testimony and heard my argument that we just can’t live in that type of society. Our community just can’t accept law enforcement officers taking it upon themselves to decide these things.”

Quarles immediately went into custody Thursday.

Curry said they were not going to appeal the misdemeanor charges.