Rings should step down regardless of trial outcome

Wednesday was the third day of a trial for Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings, who is accused of using his position to prey on vulnerable women and charged with coercion and sexual imposition.

The trial is still going, there is no verdict yet, but when it comes to whether Rings should stay in office, we would argue that the verdict doesn’t matter.

The coercion charge stems from a series of hundreds of text messages with Amy Davis, who was a defendant in a drug trafficking case being prosecuted by Rings and a victim in a kidnapping case he was also prosecuting. The sexual imposition charge stems from an encounter in his office that Davis says was not consensual. There have also been numerous other complaints from women against Rings that have since begun to be investigated.

Rings may or may not have committed a crime. We’ll let the jury decide. But he should not continue to be our prosecutor.

We elected him to the position and expected him to behave honorably, ethically and honestly. He has abused our trust and he has lost our trust.

In court this week, Rings’ defense did not dispute that Rings sent all those texts to Davis, that he said “Hey there pretty lady send me something” among other flirtatious texts. They didn’t dispute that he received multiple racy images of her, including in lingerie, and continued the correspondence, all the while handling these cases involving her. Even if the relationship didn’t earn her special favor–or retribution–the inappropriate communication is bad enough.

Marietta Police Det. Tyson Estes testified Tuesday that Rings told him during the period of texting that Davis “oozed with sexuality,” a comment that is incredibly disturbing. Would he speak of another victim of a crime that way? Has he already?

In his position as prosecutor, Rings must work with victims and their families regularly, as well as defendants who may be in the throes of addiction, scared of jail time or vulnerable in other ways. He has to be trusted to be professional and to do the right thing. If this were another woman Rings had these interactions with and they were in fact consensual, that would be a personal matter. However, the fact that Davis was involved in cases being handled by Rings made her off limits, period, and it makes it the business of the public that elected him.

If Rings is acquitted, and if he is not disbarred due to complaints at the state level, we hope he will step down. His behavior is not acceptable for someone in a position of authority, power and great responsibility. The people of Washington County deserve better.