Atlanta, GA - A man who violently attacked and raped at least nine women was sentenced to life sentences in Dougherty County, Georgia on November 28, 2022. Duane Jabaar Ballard, 49 years old, of Thomaston, Georgia, was convicted last month 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. 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.
One victim was 16 when she was assaulted by the Defendant. The sexual assault kit that was collected after the attack was part of the SB 304 inventory. She waited sixteen years for her day in court. After the sentencing, she stated “It has been a long road, but if I can survive this, I can survive anything. The Georgia SAKI Task Force was there for me every step of the way and gave me the courage to face my attacker. They were my strength. They believed me. I do not want to hide anymore because of them.”
Two of the nine victims were present in court at sentencing and three provided victim impact statements which were read in court by members of the Georgia SAKI Task Force. One victim, who was 15 at the time of the assault, stated “It hurt me because I was only a child when the incident happened… I constantly watch over my shoulder. I make sure all the doors and windows are locked. I’m a victim of a crime where I just wanted to enjoy my friends and the people I went to school with, but now I have nightmares… The person who did this to me shouldn’t be able to get out or be able to hurt anyone else.” Judge Denise Marshall of Dougherty County Superior Court agreed and sentenced Duane Ballard to life without the possibility of parole plus 100 years consecutive to serve.
Planning for the GA SAKI Task Force began in 2017 with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council'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."
Please see press release dated October 12, 2022 for more information on the Ballard investigation, prosecution, and convictions.
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