Four teenagers over age 17 and six juveniles were given citations for underage drinking after police arrived at Busch's home around 3 a.m. Dec. 22. Four Cobb Police officers - Sgt. T.W. Jennings and Officers S. Walton, D.A. Ryan, and E.F. Ainsworth - responded to the scene. A neighbor, who had attended an adult Christmas party at the home earlier in the evening, said the teens are students at the prestigious Walker School in Marietta.
Solicitor General Barry Morgan's office usually prosecutes misdeameanor offenses, such as minors in possession of alcohol. Morgan said that in such cases, authorities always try to determine where and how the minors got the alcohol. Morgan said he recused his office in this case and asked for an outside prosecutor because one of his assistant solicitors attended the Christmas party at the home earlier in the evening.
Weeks after the incident, Cobb Police were still interviewing witnesses. No charges have been filed against Busch.
Her defense lawyer, Vic Reynolds, a well-known Marietta attorney, disputes that his client ever provided alcohol to anyone under age 21, or allowed teenagers to drink alcohol on her property. However, the police report notes that when she came downstairs to talk to the officers, she appeared to be intoxicated and "said something to the effect 'I would rather have the kids drinking at my house than out driving around,' and 'I gave the kids the alcohol.'"
The police report notes that Busch was upstairs asleep when police arrived.
The special prosecutor is Lalaine Briones, an attorney with the Atlanta-based Prosecuting Attorneys Council. She is scheduled to meet with Cobb Police next week, Cobb Police Chief G.B. Hatfield said.
About 3 a.m. on Dec. 22, Cobb Police were dispatched to the neighborhood, off of Stilesboro Road in west Cobb, after a neighbor reported hearing what sounded like gunshots.
Upon investigating, police found lots of popped balloons in Busch's driveway, and an officer knocked on the door of her Hazeltine Lane home. Another officer checking the back of the house could see beer bottles and cans on a ping-pong table and in the hands of "numerous young looking individuals," according to the police report.
An officer then encountered a youth on the home's deck and asked if there were any adults home and for him to summon them, according to the police report.
Kathryn Middleton then appeared at the door and "appeared intoxicated," according to the police report. Middleton is a friend and neighbor of Busch's, and one of Middleton's children was also at the home.
"Officer Ryan asked if [Middleton] could get the homeowner and she responded by asking us why we were there," and officers explained about the report of gunshots, according to the report.
"I asked Ms. Middleton if she knew how old the individuals located in the basement were. Ms. Middleton stated that most of the kids went to the Walker School," the report states.
Middleton returned a few minutes later with Busch, the homeowner, "who also seemed to be very intoxicated," according to the report. "She seemed to not comprehend and continued to ask why we were there. Our presence was explained to her multiple times. ... Ms. Busch stated that she had hosted an adult party earlier and that when it was over she went to bed. She stated that some of the children who had come with their parents were supposed to stay the night."
Busch allowed police to enter her home, where they began talking to the teenagers, according to the police report.
"Mrs. Busch advised she had just woken up and seemed to be agitated at what she observed in the basement, stating 'you damn kids'," the report states.
"When Mrs. Busch came down to the basement her speech was slurred," one officer noted in the report. "Ms. Busch was very unstable on her feet as she staggered toward us. Ms. Busch repeatedly asked why the police were present at her residence."
"Ms. Busch accompanied me while checking the upstairs portion of the residence where there were young children sleeping," the report states. "I located three additional underage subjects that had been drinking. One ... was hiding in a walk-in attic space. The other two subjects were found in a bedroom fully clothed and lying in a bed."
State Sen. John Wiles, a Kennesaw Republican, arrived at Busch's home while the police were talking to the teenagers in the basement and using Alco sensors to check for alcohol consumption, according to the police report.
Busch's teenage son tested clean and was not cited, Reynolds said.
Busch, who was recently reappointed as an associate municipal judge in Marietta and has filled in as a Cobb State Court judge in recent years, is an attorney in Wiles' law firm, Wiles & Wiles, in Marietta. And Wiles also lives in the Marietta Country Club community, where homes are currently listed for sale for more than $1 million.
According to the police report, Wiles "stated that he had come to assist Mrs. Busch. Mrs. Busch made it known that Mr. Wiles was a former Cobb County prosecutor and is [now] a state senator. Mrs. Busch had also stated that she was a traffic court judge in Woodstock."
Although Wiles is a Walker School parent, the report did not indicate if one of his children were at the party.
The police report also notes that Wiles commented that one of the youths should not be charged because he was going to college on an athletic scholarship, which would be jeopardized by a citation.
"I then had Mr. Wiles meet with me off to the side where I advised him that there would be no picking and choosing on who would be charged and who would not," Sgt. T.W. Jennings wrote in his report.
"A few moments later I overheard Mrs. Busch ask from across the room if we were really going to cite all of the kids. When one of the Officers answered yes, she stated that 'she had allowed it.' Mr. Wiles was quick to tell Ms. Busch to be quiet."
After police cited the teenagers and turned them over to their parents, Officer S. Walton realized one of the juveniles was unaccounted for. Although Busch stated that the teen had left with a parent, police called the teen's mother, who said the teen was not at home and was now very concerned, according to the report.
"Officer Ryan and I checked throughout the house again looking for [the teen]. While walking down the stairs, Ms. Busch told us to get out of her house. Sgt. Jennings came into the living room and asked what was going on. Ms. Busch stated that she was going to call Chief Hatfield and Mickey Lloyd if we didn't leave. She also stated that we didn't want that P.R. Sgt. Jennings advised her she could call them if she wished because we were only doing our jobs. We left Ms. Busch's house after not locating [the teen] inside the residence," the police report states.
Sgt. Jennings' report notes: "Ms. Busch advised that she had open up her home to us but now she wanted us out. Mrs. Busch had been present when contact had been made [with the teen's] mother and she knew the juvenile was missing. She also stated that she was going to call Mickey Lloyd and Chief Hatfield. I advised her twice that she could call them now if she wished."
The teen, it turned out, had walked home and was safe.
Officer E. Ainsworth wrote in the report that while he was issuing a citation, Busch "came down from the upstairs area and asked 'do you have to write these kids citations?' I am familiar with Ms. Busch, I have worked with her when she was a solicitor for the Cobb County State Court. Ms. Busch state to me she was currently a Judge for the City of Woodstock and 'the person assisting you all is Senator Wiles.' Judge Busch stated she had a Christmas party this evening with friends and some other people from the Cobb District Attorney's Office. She stated there were some Cobb Police Officer present as well. Judge Busch asked 'Do you know Marshall Duling and his wife Torre?'"
Duling is a Cobb Police sergeant and day-shift supervisor over Precint 4, in east Cobb.
Officer Ainsworth noted in his report that he asked Wiles how the teens had arrived at Busch's home, and Wiles "stated their parents were at the party earlier and had left their child to sleep over when they left. Several of the parents who were called to the scene to pick up their children were unaware that their child was at the location further advising that they had not attended the earlier party."
"Several years prior (2001 to 2005), I was at the same location on a similar incident regarding under age drinking," Ainsworth's report states.
Cobb Police Chief Hatfield said this week: "It's an open investigation. Anytime that we as a police department have a report for something like this - underage people drinking in our county - it is a very big concern. That is why we have investigated this and have done a very extensive investigation. They have interviewed numerous people, they have talked to a lot of people, they've looked at a lot of things that would clear up any questions."
The police report was obtained via an Open Records Request to Morgan's office.
"I want the citizens here to feel like this was looked at by somebody who doesn't have a dog in this fight and let the chips fall where they may," Morgan said.
In any case where there are minors in possession of alcohol, where they got the alcohol is always an issue, he said. His office offers a diversion program for first-time offenders charged with shoplifting, alcohol possession or possession of marijuana. The charge is generally dropped if they complete community service and stay out of trouble.
Cobb Police refused to release their report file, arguing that Georgia law prohibits such release in cases where minors are charged. David Hudson, a lawyer for the Georgia Press Association, said the code the police were referring to relates to records kept in juvenile court, not police incident reports.
Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques acknowledged this week that he and the city were aware the Busch was being investigated by the police and a special prosecutor.
As for whether the Woodstock City Council will take any action, he said: "We're not doing anything at this time because we want it to play itself out legally," and added that because it's a personnel issue, he could not go into further detail.
Reynolds, Busch's lawyer, said his client agreed she may have made some bad judgement calls that night, but did not provide alcohol to minors nor permit them to drink in her home.
"If there's any conflicts between her statements and the police, hopefully the investigation will remedy that. I would hope they've realized, as we've said all along, that she's committed no criminal offense," Reynolds said.
Reporters Marcus Howard and Kristal Dixon contributed to this report.