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Autopsy: Prosecutor Accused In Sex Sting Hung Himself From Shower

10-5-2007 Michigan:

MILAN, Mich. -- Autopsy results said a federal prosecutor accused of flying to Michigan to have sex with a 5-year-old girl committed suicide in prison by hanging himself from a shower head with a bed sheet on Friday morning.

The Washtenaw County medical examiner said they found no other injuries or diseases that would have caused the death of Assistant U.S. Attorney John D.R. Atchison, of Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Atchison, 53, was put on suicide watch after he used a bed sheet in an attempted suicide in September.

Atchison had been communicating with an undercover sheriff's detective from Macomb County, Mich., who was posing online as the fictitious girl's mother and arranged for him to have sex with the child, police said.

He was arrested carrying presents for her, including a doll and earrings, and sexual materials, officials said.

Atchison was a married father of three and a respected figure who coached girls' softball and basketball in a park a few blocks from his home in this well-to-do beach community.

"There were no red flags. He was normal. He went to work at the courthouse Monday through Friday. It's not like he carried dolls to the ballpark," said police Lt. Rick Hawthorne, who knew Atchison for more than 10 years and coached softball.

In the community that once applauded Atchison for his dedication to youth sports, people now worry that the assistant U.S. attorney might have held other secrets. But authorities have so far found no cases of child molestation in Florida involving Atchison.

The Pensacola mayor has tried to reassure parents and other residents alarmed by Atchison's arrest. "There was nothing involving local children and there should be no implication that there is," he said.

As a federal prosecutor, Atchison mostly worked on tax and financial crime cases. According to court records, it appears he never prosecuted child sex abuse cases.

Atchison's attorney, James C. Thomas, released a statement Friday: “We are deeply saddened to learn the death of John Roy Atchison. Our heartfelt regrets go out to his wife and children, his parents and his brothers and sisters. This is a man who has done a lot of good in his life. Unfortunately, he is going to be judged by his most recent charges and what we have read in the media, and not by the goodness, hard work or by the love of his family. I expect to be filing a Suggestion of Death and will request the federal judge to dismiss the case once I receive the necessary documents.”

Atchison was charged with three felonies, the most serious of which is crossing state lines with intent to have sex with someone younger than 12. Conviction carries a minimum 30-year prison sentence and a maximum of life. ..more.. by Click on Detroit

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