Charges against Rickard in Oconee Co. surfaced

Tia Lynn Ivey News

More details are surfacing surrounding the charges against Ryan Rickard, the former assistant principle at Morgan County High School who is currently in jail on charges of rape and sexual battery against three former students in three different counties.

According to reporting by Michael Prochaska, journalist with the Oconee Enterprise, court documents reveal the nature of Rickard’s alleged crimes in Oconee County. Rickard faces separate charges in Walton and Morgan counties, including a rape charge. The details around the charges in Morgan and Walton counties have not yet been made public.

Authorities are alleging that Rickard, 34, while employed with the Oconee County School System, carried on a two-year sexual relationship with a North Oconee High School student.

Court documents allege Rickard and student engaged in sexual intercourse. He is being charged with committing sexual assault against persons he had “supervisory or disciplinary authority” over.

Rickard’s alleged crimes in Oconee County supposedly occurred between June 2011 and August 2013. In addition, authorities have also charged Rickard with two counts of felony sexual battery for “intentionally making physical contact with the intimate body part of a child without the victim’s consent.”

According to court documents, the first charge alleges Rickard grabbed a student’s buttocks inside a classroom at North Oconee High School sometime between 2010 and 2012. The second charge alleges Rickard placed the victim’s hands on his genitals sometime between 2011 and 2013.

Rickard, who resides in Bishop, Ga., was arrested on July 6 on multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual battery and one count of rape, according to a press release by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

The charges also claim Rickard, held “supervisory or disciplinary authority” over all of his alleged victims at the time of the alleged crimes. One victim has come forward from Morgan County, and the other two victims are from Walton and Oconee counties. “We are encouraging any other victims to come forward,” said Nellie Miles, public affairs director for the GBI. Miles noted that Rickard’s alleged crimes span between 2011-2017 and the ages of the victims were 14-16 years of age at the time. Rickard resigned from Morgan County High School in March of 2018 amid a lengthy investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “Rickard had previously been under federal investigation for attempting to access child pornography online. The GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC) was requested by Homeland Security Investigations to assist with the investigation because it had elements of federal crimes as well as state crimes,” confirmed the GBI in the July press release.

According to the GBI, all three victims were allegedly abused by Rickard while he was their teacher and believe there may be more victims. “Child sexual abuse inflicts life-long mental and physical scars on its victims and the added abuse of power in this case makes the crime even more egregious,” said Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Nick Annan. “HSI is appreciative of its longstanding partnership with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in the fight against child sexual exploitation, and we are committed to continuing this important work with our federal, state and local partners to find and prosecute abusers while rescuing the victims of these terrible crimes.”

According to GBI Special Agent in Charge, and Commander of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, Debbie Garner stated “this type of cooperation and collaboration is invaluable in the effort to keep our children safe from predators who seek to harm them. This successful investigation was a partnership between all the agencies involved. We will continue to aggressively work together to protect our children.”

Prior to his tenure at Morgan County High School, he was a teacher at North Oconee High School in Watkinsville, Georgia. Rickard was also a teacher and Athletic Director at Memorial Middle School in Conyers, Georgia and was a student teacher at Burke County High School. He also lists himself as an active member of the popular megachurch, Athens Church in Athens, Georgia.

The GBI is asking anyone with information regarding this case to call the GBI CEACC Unit at 404-270-8870 or by email at Tips@gbi.ga.gov or HSI at 404-346-2300.

Rickard is currently in Oconee County jail and has been denied bond as we awaits trial.

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