BRUNSWICK, Ga. – One day after former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson turned herself in at the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, pastors and community leaders are calling for a formal investigation into Johnson’s conduct in another case she handled -- the investigation and prosecution of former Brunswick Pastor Kenneth Adkins.
Adkins was convicted at trial four years ago of molesting two teens and was sentenced to 35 years in prison plus life on probation.
A group of community leaders who maintain Adkins was wrongfully convicted met at the Glynn County Courthouse Thursday, claiming Adkins’ case is another example of Johnson violating her oath of office.
“We want the Attorney General and the state to look at that,” said Pastor Fer-Rell Malone Sr. “This case demands an investigation for Jackie Johnson’s misconduct.”
Johnson surrendered early Wednesday morning after she was indicted last Thursday by a grand jury on charges of violation of oath of public officer and obstruction of a police officer. The charges are related to the investigation of the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
She was booked then promptly released on her own recognizance, meaning she did not have to pay a cash bond.
Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s father, was at Thursday’s news conference and said Johnson’s arrest was meaningful.
“That’s letting the world know how much wrong they’ve been doing and it brings closer to justice for my son,” Marcus Arbery said.
The indictment accuses Johnson in February 2020 of violating her oath as district attorney “by showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation.” Greg McMichael, one of three men charged in Abery’s death, had once worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office.
The same day the indictment was handed down, a judge signed a warrant for Johnson’s arrest.
The Kenneth Adkins Freedom Project is now calling for a formal investigation into Adkins’ case, which Johnson handled four years ago as Brunswick’s top prosecutor.
The former pastor was arrested in 2016 by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on charges of child molestation. The charges stemmed from allegations from a then-teenage boy about things that happened inside a church in 2010.
Adkins’ defense focused on whether the young man had reached the age of 16 -- the age of consent in Georgia. A grand jury later indicted Adkins on 11 counts.
News4Jax spoke with Adkins, who has been in prison the last four years, while he was in jail. He said he was targeted because of his political views and denied the allegations.
Those behind Adkins are now calling out issues in the prosecution, including the possibility that Johnson intentionally and knowingly advanced a false timeline to convict him.
“Jackie Johnson’s entire conviction of Ken Adkins was based on the creation of a false timeline,” Malone said. “There’s been an injustice that has been consistent in this district.”
Adkins’ attorneys filed a motion for a new trial that is expected to be heard at some point this year.
Malone is calling on current District Attorney Keith Higgins to agree to that motion and drop the charges against Adkins.
Johnson’s defense attorney John Ossick returned a call from News4Jax but said he does not comment on cases he’s currently handling.
It’s unclear when Johnson will next appear in court.