Charges Dismissed Against Southern Manor Co-Owner, Executive Director

The charges against the co-owner and executive director of an assisted living facility in Candler County have been dismissed. 

The dismissal comes seven months after the saga, which garnered considerable media attention, began for Southern Manor co-owner Ralph Cowart and Executive Direct Meghan McCullough.

The charges followed an investigation by the Candler County Sheriff’s Office and then the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, at the request of CCSO, in the summer of 2023. Agents with the state agency alleged that Cowart and McCullough unlawfully ‘ejected’ a resident from Southern Manor without notice and during a June 2023 rain storm. The two were arrested a month later on four counts: 1) Neglect to a Disabled Adult/Elder Person, 2) Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adults/Elder Persons, 3) Reckless Conduct, and 4) Failure to Report a Case of Abuse of Disabled Adult/Elder. They were released on bond the same day with no conditions, other than a stay away order from the alleged victim, court documents show.

The case was presented to the grand jury in December 2023, with a True Bill of Indictment returned on only two of the four original charges – 1) Neglect to a Disabled Adult, Elder Person, or Resident, a felony, and 2) Reckless Conduct, a misdemeanor. 

Their attorneys both issued statements following the indictment, asking the public to wait for the facts. Statesboro attorney Matt Hube said on behalf of Cowart that he ‘did not commit any of the acts that are being alleged by the state’ and said he felt strongly that Cowart would be ‘fully exonerated.’ Attorney Keith Barber, representing McCullough, said he believed McCullough would also be ‘totally exonerated’ and that she ‘has not, is not, nor would she ever participate in at any time’ the behavior outlined in the indictment.

Court records show that both attorneys filed speedy trial demands on behalf of their clients after arraignment in January. Subsequent court dates were set for later this year and an August trial, but on March 6, the charges were dismissed. The Order for Dismissal was prepared by the Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and signed by Judge Tommy Smith.  It was filed into the clerk’s office the same day. Additional documentation or explanation did not accompany the court filing.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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