Update: Former Hawkins County prosecutor pleads 'no contest', receives two years probation

Jeff Bobo • Oct 1, 2012 at 12:18 PM

DANDRIDGE — Former Hawkins County prosecutor Doug Godbee entered a “no contest” plea Monday in Jefferson County Criminal Court to a single count of felony official misconduct related to a sex-for-leniency scandal that came to light in 2010.

Godbee, 59, of Rogersville, was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and 200 hours of community service.

Among the conditions of his probation, he must undergo a psycho/sexual mental evaluation, complete the therapy and counseling regime already in place, and complete any other treatment the evaluation recommends.

He is also officially disbarred from practicing law in Tennessee.

Godbee served as Rogersville’s chief prosecutor for more than 30 years before resigning in September 2010 amid allegations he solicited, and in some cases received, sexual favors in exchange for leniency from female drug defendants and/or their mothers.

Attorney General Russell Johnson from Kingston, who served as special prosecutor in the case, said that at last count 14 women had filed civil lawsuits against the state seeking compensation for harm they suffered as a result of Godbee’s conduct.

Johnson said he is glad for the victims and the citizens of Hawkins County that the case is resolved.

“The victims can now move forward with their civil claims for damages, and those folks who have followed this case can now have some closure,” Johnson said. “This is a felony conviction that will always remain on Godbee’s record. He received neither a pre-trial diversion nor a judicial diversion.”

Godbee’s attorney, Paul Whetstone, declined to comment on Monday’s plea and sentence.

Johnson added, “I hope that the conclusion of this case will help begin to repair the damage that Mr. Godbee’s conduct caused the criminal justice system in Hawkins County. I also hope that the supervision, counseling and therapy that this two-year sentence carries will begin to help Mr. Godbee heal himself. At one time he was a positive contributor to the Hawkins County community and a good prosecutor. It is unfortunate for him and the justice system that he was sworn to uphold that he fell into this terrible mind-set and lifestyle that caused harm to so many people.”

Godbee’s law licence had been suspended since Aug. 6 as a result of allegations he was trading legal services to a client for sex.

He resigned his position as Hawkins County’s lead prosecutor in September 2010 and began a private practice almost immediately, mainly serving Hawkins County.

As a result of Godbee’s disbarment, Criminal Court Judge John Dugger found himself in a position Monday of having to find new attorneys for all of Godbee’s existing clients, 18 of whom were in Hawkins County, and another six in Hamblen County. About half were assigned to the public defender’s office.

“The major aspect of this case to many people will be getting the felony conviction to the official misconduct charge, just like the grand jury indicted it,” Johnson said. “The even better result, in my opinion, is having Godbee disbarred so he will not have the ability to come into contact with or intimidate these types of individuals again.”

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