Atlanta, GA - A man who violently attacked and raped at least nine women was found guilty on 16 counts in Dougherty County, Georgia. Duane Jabaar Ballard, 49 years old, of Thomaston, Georgia, was convicted on six counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, seven counts of aggravated assault, one count of child molestation, and one count of attempted aggravated sodomy.
At the invitation of District Attorney Gregory W. Edwards, the Georgia SAKI Task Force led the investigation and prosecution that resulted in Ballard's convictions. Ballard's case was prosecuted by Lee Young Williams, a Prosecuting Attorneys' Council special prosecutor assigned to the Georgia SAKI Task Force, which is a project of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) in partnership with the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council (PAC), the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office, and the Cobb County District Attorney's Office.
Ballard was linked to 12 rapes over 13 years, prosecutor says.
According to DA Edwards, Ballard's series of rapes began in 2004, when the then 31-year-old coerced a 19-year-old girl into his vehicle and drove to a secluded area where he physically attacked and sexually assaulted her. This began a 13-year violent spree of sexual assaults on vulnerable victims and citizens of Dougherty County.
Many of the cases were linked in CODIS, the national DNA database, and four of the sexual assault kits were submitted to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Department of Forensic Sciences as a result of the General Assembly's unanimous passing of Senate Bill 304. The bill, passed in 2016, mandated that previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits be submitted to the crime lab by August 30, 2016.
Dougherty County DA's Office Investigator Stephen Mitchum was actively working on the series of sexual assaults and worked collaboratively with Georgia SAKI Task Force detectives investigating cases and locating the victims. The Task Force's victim advocates and Task Force Coordinator collaborated with Albany's The Lily Pad to provide services and support to seven of the victims who showed up to testify in court.
Of the collaborative effort, CJCC's Executive Director Jay Neal said "It has been a privilege to provide incredible resources to local communities combatting sexual violence in challenging times. Consistent with the mission of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, we will continue to strive to meet the challenges local communities face in their public safety and victim-serving efforts."
Dougherty County District Attorney Gregory W. Edwards agreed and expressed his appreciation to CJCC and the Georgia SAKI Task Force, stating, "This collaborative effort was vital to bringing this Defendant to justice. The victims have long suffered, and all expressed relief at the verdict. The Defendant will serve his sentence behind bars for the rest of his life. This example of state and local collaborative efforts to protect our communities is what motivates us all to continue in our pursuit of justice. This endeavor affects this judicial circuit and Georgia as a whole in an extremely positive way."
Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council Executive Director Pete Skandalakis expressed his gratitude to DA Edwards for the opportunity to serve the Albany community, stating, "Once again, the Georgia SAKI Task Force has proven its worth. To be able to bring justice to so many victims of violent sexual assault is phenomenal. Cold cases such as these leave a lasting impact on victims, and I am grateful that they had their day in court. I wish to thank prosecutor Williams and Dr. Rita Davis-Cannon, Director of Victim Services, for their work and dedication to bringing justice to the victims."
Planning for the GA SAKI Task Force began in 2017 with CJCC's receipt of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The Task Force provides consultation and technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of cold case sexual assaults that have been reopened as a result of the state's efforts to test previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits. Additionally, the project has assisted law enforcement agencies with consultation and funding for advanced DNA testing and genetic genealogy testing in unsolved sexually motivated homicides. DA Edwards is quoted as saying, "This is money well spent."
This case was prosecuted by Lee Young Williams, PAC Special Prosecutor assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force, assisted by Sharla Jackson, PAC Special Prosecutor, and Trina Griffiths, Cobb County Assistant District Attorney assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force, Greg Edwards Dougherty County District Attorney.
Investigations provided by Stephen Mitchum, Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office Investigator, Crispin Henry, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office Investigator, assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force, Lisa Bishop, Cobb County District Attorney’s Office Investigator assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force, David Proctor, former PAC Investigator assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force, additional trial support provided by Keith Blander, PAC Investigator assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force.
Advocacy provided by Leigh Wiles, LiveSAFE Resources Victim Advocate assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force, Rita Davis-Cannon, PAC Victim Services Director, Haley Coalson, Victim Advocate, The Lily Pad, Jewell Amos, Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office, Diane Rogers and staff, The Liberty House, Kimari Collier former LiveSAFE Resources victim advocate assigned to the GA SAKI Task Force.
Task Force Oversight and Coordination, Amy Hutsell, CJCC Program Director for Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, and Human Trafficking, Jay Eisner, retired Major, DeKalb County Police Department – GA SAKI Task Force Coordinator, Rodney Demery, former GA SAKI Task Force Coordinator.
About the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC)
Created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1981 as an Executive Branch agency, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) represents the culmination of many efforts to establish a statewide body that would build consensus and unity among the State's diverse and interdependent criminal justice system components. For more information, visit the CJCC website: https://cjcc.georgia.gov/.
Dannielle Lewis – Communications Director