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Effingham chief deputy defends his court testimony
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A top Effingham County law enforcement officer is defending himself against attacks based on his testimony in a recent court hearing.

Effingham County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Richard Bush testified at a sentence modification hearing for Kenneth Brown. Bush said he testified that Brown should be removed from group counseling and given individual counseling.

“Group counseling wasn’t doing him any good,” Bush said last Friday.

Bloggers and chat room postings had charged that Bush was defending Brown, who had been convicted in 2006 of two counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of child molestation and one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes. Brown was sentenced to 240 days at a detention center and 10 years of probation.

Bush said he testified that Brown had had suicidal thoughts and that individual counseling would be better than a group setting where Brown felt less comfortable about participating.

“It’s still getting this gentleman the help that he needs,” Bush said. “It’s not doing away with his prison time or probation. It’s just getting him the help that he needs.”

Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said Wednesday their job goes beyond “locking them in the jail and throwing away the key.”

“We do it all the time,” he said. “If something’s not working for somebody, we talk to the judge. All Richard did was ask them to change him from group to individual counseling where he could get help.”

Brown is now serving probation for his conviction and has been going to group therapy every week, Bush said.

“He’s going to continue to go to counseling,” Bush said. “He’s still doing what the judge ordered for him to do. The judge told them if they could find an individual counselor approved by the state, he didn’t have a problem with it. The judge didn’t see anything wrong with that. The judge apparently agreed with my thoughts.

“All I was asking for is to just try to get this boy the help he needs,” Bush said.

Bush said his actions in testifying for a different therapy setting for Brown were no different from what he would have done for someone else.

“It’s more than our job to put them in jail, but to get them the help they need,” he said. “If a person needs help, it’s our duty to see he gets the help he needs.

“I don’t want anybody going out and committing suicide, no matter who they are.”

McDuffie said the attacks are politically motivated. McDuffie, who has been sheriff for six years, faces Bloomingdale Police Chief Rick Gossett in the July primary.

“It’s politics is all it is,” he said.

Bush also questioned the motivations of the accusations.

“I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to gain,” he said. “My integrity means the world to me.”