A Gainesville couple, including a former employee of the Hall County courthouse, were acquitted of most of the child cruelty allegations against them following a bench trial in October, according to court documents.
Jeffrey Lee Williams, 45, was sentenced on a charge of second-degree child cruelty for forcing a 7-year-old boy to “carry heavy buckets and tires across the yard” during hot weather and “screaming at (the) child and withholding water.”
Crystal Williams, 34, was sentenced on a misdemeanor battery charge, dropped from an original charge of first-degree child cruelty, alleging the child suffered significant bruising after a beating.
Crystal Williams received 12 months on probation, and Jeffrey Williams received a 12-month sentence with the first 10 days in custody.
Both were sentenced under the First Offender Act by Hall County Superior Court Judge Jason Deal, which means the will be exonerated of guilt on these charges if they fulfill the terms of their sentence.
Jeffrey Williams will receive credit for previous time served and may serve his custodial sentence, or time in jail, on weekends. Deal also chose to impose a sentence on this case as a misdemeanor, and Jeffrey Williams may serve the remainder of his sentence on probation.
Crystal Williams was acquitted of another count of first-degree child cruelty and two counts of second-degree child cruelty. Jeffrey Williams was acquitted of one count each of first- and second-degree child cruelty.
“I appreciate Judge Deal’s careful review of the evidence and his verdict,” Crystal Williams’ defense attorney Andy Maddox wrote in an email. “Certainly, Mrs. Williams would have preferred to be found not guilty of all charges and maintained her innocence throughout the trial. However, these are complicated matters and we understand each circumstance can be viewed differently. Mrs. Williams’s primary focus is her children and continuing to be the best parent possible.”
Jeffrey Williams’ attorney Jason Wilson did not return a request for comment Monday, Nov. 11.
Crystal Williams was formerly employed with the Hall County Clerk of Courts and terminated in mid-August 2018, when the charges were announced by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.