ATLANTA (AP) — The wife of a local elected official in Georgia faces criminal charges after she reportedly dumped a drink on a reporter’s head at a county meeting.
Abbey Winters, the wife of Chattooga County Commissioner Jason Winters, intentionally poured a drink over the head of AllOnGeorgia reporter Casie Bryant just before a county budget meeting was to start around 11 a.m. Friday, witnesses told police. Winters, 35, “said something to the effect of the Victim ‘deserved it,’” according to the incident report from the Summerville Police Department.
Witnesses, including other news reporters, told police they didn’t see or hear Bryant say or do anything provocative before the drink was dumped.
Rural Chattooga County is in northwest Georgia, along the state border with Alabama. While most county commissions have multiple members, Chattooga has a sole commissioner, who serves as the chief legislative and executive government officer, according to the county website. Jason Winters, a local businessman, was elected to that position in 2008.
When officers tried to talk to them, Abbey and Jason Winters asked to speak to their attorney before talking to police, the report says. Officers later went to attorney Chris Corbin’s office, where Abbey Winters said she had accidentally poured the drink on Bryant after stumbling or tripping near her.
Officers then spoke to Bryant, who confirmed what witnesses had told them. Bryant told officers she didn’t recall ever seeing Abbey Winters at public meetings before. Bryant told officers that “for a few minutes after the drink was poured on her she was just in shock and that she recalled someone stating that the drink looked good on her,” the report says.
Based on statements from Bryant and witnesses, officers got warrants against Abbey Winters on charges of disorderly conduct and simple battery, both misdemeanors. Winters turned herself in around 4:30 p.m. Friday, according to the sheriff’s office.
Corbin did not immediately respond to phone and email messages Monday seeking comment on the charges.
AllOnGeorgia is a “hyper-local community-oriented news organization” that seeks “to bring smaller, rural communities relevant and important news that is otherwise not reported,” according to its website.
No one at the news outlet immediately responded Monday to phone and email requests for comment, but in a story about the incident on the website, AllOnGeorgia owner Delvis Dutton said that what happened at the budget meeting “was completely inappropriate and I’m disappointed to see not only the behavior of those involved, but the excuses made for the behavior after the fact. The media plays an integral role in ensuring transparency and these types of antics are dangerous to open government and a disservice to the people it serves.”