DeKalb County sheriff pleads not guilty to indecency charge

DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann appeared in court Friday morning, where he pleaded not guilty to an indecency charge.

Atlanta police charged Sheriff Mann with indecency and obstruction for allegedly exposing himself in an area of Piedmont Park known for sex activity after dark and for running a quarter of a mile from the officer who spotted him.

Friday morning, the 53-year-old sheriff entered a not guilty plea in front of a municipal court judge. The trial is set for July 7 in Atlanta. 

RELATED: Gov. Deal orders investigation into DeKalb sheriff's arrest

Earlier this week, a Fulton County judge decided a committee appointed by the governor will continue to investigate Mann. An attorney for Sheriff Mann asked a the judge to stop the three-person panel from investigating public indecency charges against him, claiming the committee has too much power.

Mann's attorney, Noah Pines, also argued that the statute authorizing the committee’s creation only covers alleged misconduct while in his official capacity as sheriff.

Georgia Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Dobras argued that the appointed committee is lawful and should investigate the sheriff's alleged misconduct.

"Sheriff Mann is the highest law enforcement official in DeKalb County," said Dobras. "He was arrested for exposing himself and masturbating in public and then fleeing another police officer when he was told to stop."

After hearing both sides and a recess to research cases, Judge Eric Dunaway decided a writ of prohibition was not appropriate and that the committee will merely investigate and make a non-binding recommendation.

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The sheriff put himself on a one-week suspension last Sunday. In a memo sent to his staff, Mann said he would donate the week's pay to a charity. 

Once the committee completes their investigation, they will make a recommendation to Deal, who can, at most, suspend Mann for 90 days.

MORE: DeKalb County Sheriff Mann taking self-imposed suspension