Effingham Jury Acquits, Hangs in Rincon Child Molestation Case

An Effingham County jury returned a split verdict last week in a child molestation case that dates back to 2020. 

Dana Page Malick was charged by detectives with the Rincon Police Department in May 2020 with one count of Child Molestation, one count of Cruelty to Children (1st degree), and one count of Cruelty to Children (3rd degree). The acts were said to have occurred in January 2019 and the 3rd degree Cruelty to Children charge alleged that the acts were committed in the presence of another child. 

In a nearly unprecedented move, Malick was granted bond in the amount of $6,800 on the same day she was booked into the Effingham County jail by Magistrate Judge Scott Lewis. She remained on bond for the duration of the pre-trial proceedings.

A grand jury indicted the case in December 2020 and added an additional child molestation charge but the charges regarding the second child in the bed at the time of the incident were not mentioned anywhere in the indictment. Malick’s formal charges subsequently included:

Malick’s charges carried a total of eighty years in prison, if convicted on all counts.

The case had a lengthy journey to trial with the involvement of DFCS, attempts to quash school and counseling records of minors, and intervention by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Degrees of Cruelty to Children

1st – A parent, guardian, or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge or custody of a child under the age of 18 commits the offense of cruelty to children in the first degree when:

  • such person willfully deprives the child of necessary sustenance to the extent that the child’s health or well-being is jeopardized, OR
  • such person maliciously causes a child under the age of 18 cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.
  • Punishable by 5-20 years in prison

2nd – Any person commits the offense of cruelty to children in the second degree when such person with criminal negligence causes a child under the age of 18 cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.

  • Punishable by 1-10 years in prison

3rd – Any person commits the offense of cruelty to children in the third degree when

  • Such person, who is the primary aggressor, intentionally allows a child under the age of 18 to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery; or
  • Such person, who is the primary aggressor, having knowledge that a child under the age of 18 is present and sees or hears the act, commits a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery.
  • Punishable as follows:
    • a misdemeanor upon the first or second conviction (up to 12 months in jail)
    • a felony upon a third or subsequent offense with a fine $1,000.00 to $5,000.00 and 1-3 years in prison.
Jury Verdict

ADA Christy Barker prosecuted the case for the state while Malick was represented by Rincon defense attorney Dennis Dozier Sr.

After a three day trial in Effingham County last week, jurors returned a rather diverse verdict.

  • Count 1 – Child Molestation – HUNG (meaning the jury reached no unanimous decision)
  • Count 2 – Cruelty to Children (1st degree) – NOT GUILTY
    • Lesser included offense of Cruelty to Children (2nd degree) – GUILTY
  • Count 3 – Child Molestation – NOT GUILTY
  • Count 4 – Cruelty to Children (1st degree) – NOT GUILTY
    • Lesser included offense of Cruelty to Children (2nd degree) – NOT GUILTY

Malick was taken into custody after the verdict to await sentencing, which is scheduled for next week. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Contesting the Verdict 

Malick’s legal counsel has filed a ‘Motion in Arrest of Judgment’ due to the inconsistency in the verdict. Dozier contends that because the jury could not come to a decision on Count 1 – Child Molestation and that Count 2 – Cruelty to Children is the same act as Count 1, the verdict is not consistent. 

Additionally, Dozier’s motion contends that “fatally defective and void because it failed to charge a necessary element of the crime, and therefore, failed to charge any crime at all. The motion reads that because the state did not outline each and every element of the crime in the indictment, specifically that Malick committed an act that is ‘cruel and excessive’ as required in by Cruelty to Children statutes, the acts for which the jury actually found the defendant ‘guilty’ are not crimes at all.

The Court has not ruled on the motion, which was filed on Wednesday.

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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