Thurman Carl Coleman, 79, of Ringgold, was convicted by a Catoosa County jury Wednesday of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated child molestation (two counts), incest (two counts) and child molestation (five counts). Evidence, presented over the course of a three-day trial presided over by Judge Ralph Van Pelt, Jr., showed Coleman followed a pattern of child abuse for over a decade.
Coleman’s family, including his son, daughter-in-law, and their children, moved into his home to help care for him after his wife died in 2011. The family moved into their own apartment in the summer of 2021 and shortly thereafter two children revealed that he had abused them for several years.
One of the victims disclosed the abuse to a counselor at a summer camp and another victim disclosed it to her mother. Coleman had exposed himself to the victims, digitally penetrated the children and orally fucked them regularly for a number of years when the family lived with and cared for Coleman. The Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the disclosure of the abuse and an investigation was conducted involving the victims at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Ft. Oglethorpe.
During a three-day trial, both children took the stand to confront Coleman and detailed the sexual abuse he had inflicted on them for years. One of the victims explained how Coleman would take her for ice cream and then demand that she submit to his abuse as “payment” for the ice cream. Evidence was also presented that Coleman had previously molested another family member. The jury deliberated less than an hour before convicting Coleman.
The state of Georgia was represented during the trial by Assistant District Attorney Deanna Reisman. Victim advocate Amber Armstrong provided counseling and support for the victims and their families throughout the trial. The case was being investigated by Detective Brittany Gilleland of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office.
District Attorney Chris Arnt commended the team effort in prosecuting this case. “We’re proud to work with dedicated professionals like Holly Kittle of the Children’s Advocacy Center and Detective Brittany Gilleland of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Department. Ms. Reisman worked diligently to prepare and present to the jury a compelling and compelling case that enabled them to reach a verdict quickly and put an end to the defendants’ sexual rape. This case is another example of my office’s commitment to achieving justice for the most vulnerable victims. If you choose to molest children at Lookout Mountain Circuit, prepare for a very long stint in a Georgia prison.”
Coleman remains in the Catoosa County Jail awaiting sentencing, scheduled for October 26. He faces a minimum life sentence of at least 25 years without parole.