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Former UGA student's alleged sex crimes escalate from spying to assault

Avery Hogan Pendergraph

By Joe Johnson

A former University of Georgia student was arrested this week for rape and aggravated sodomy, over two years after he was previously arrested for allegedly secretly recording his roommate as she took showers at their home on East Broad Street.

According to Lt. Shaun Barnett, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department’s public information officer, the alleged crimes were committed by 34-year-old Avery Hogan Pendergraph in or before 2019 and involved three different victims.

“One victim was associated with the rape charge and another victim associated with the aggravated sodomy charges,” he said. “They are both different than the initial victim that Pendergraph was arrested for.

“These are not recent events,” he said, “they were committed around 2019 and prior, according to the investigator. But they came to light as a result of the investigation regarding the spying allegations.”

While free on bond from the spying arrest, Pendergraph reportedly was re-arrested in August 2020 in Troup County on four counts of using spy cameras to commit additional crimes of invasion of privacy and multiple acts of sexual exploitation of children, according to Clarke County Superior Court Records.

He was previously arrested in August 2019 by ACCPD on warrants charging him with felony illegal surveillance and electronic transmission of images depicting nudity without consent.

Police said he allegedly took photos and made recordings with a spy camera of his female roommate through a peephole in the bathroom of their Athens residence.

The alleged spying came to light on Aug. 17 2019 when the 30-year-old victim reported that her mother sent her a link for nude photos of the victim, according to an Athens-Clarke County police report.

The woman told police that she and Pendergraph did not get along, he did not pay his bills and that he moved out.

At the time, Pendergraph was a computer science student at UGA, according to his LinkedIn profile.

After receiving the link to the photographs, which included images of her getting out of the shower, the victim noticed a small “screw-like” hole in the wall under a mirror and cabinet in her bathroom, according to a police report.

The bedroom that was formerly occupied by Pendergraph was on the other side of the wall, where the victim found "a random screw" that seemed "weird to her," the police report said.

The victim reportedly told police that Pendergraph had mentioned that he had bought some security cameras for the house, but she never saw them.

At the time the police report was filed, an officer noted in the report that the address on Pendergraph’s driver’s license had been changed to a location in LaGrange.

After being booked into the Clarke County Jail, Pendergraph was released on a $5,000 surety bond with the conditions he could not use electronic recording devices or the Internet.

One month later, Clarke County Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens signed a search warrant for electronic devices that were found in the possession of Pendergraph when arrested.

Athens-Clarke investigators subsequently found numerous photos of the Athens victim in her bathroom, “as well as numerous other females in bathrooms...and multiple images of child pornography on (Pendergraph’s) iPhone and iPad, as well as the Defendant’s Mega Cloud storage accounts,” according to a prosecutor’s motion to revoke Pendergraph’s bond.

Mega is a cloud storage and file hosting service based in New Zealand that permits users to link others into their accounts to share files.

The motion states a search of Pendergraph’s bedroom at his home in LaGrange resulted in the recovery of “multiple items prohibited by the special conditions of bond” in Athens, including a key fob spy camera, a smoke alarm camera and a USB spy camera.

The motion noted that one of the videos was “produced in a bathroom located on the University of Georgia campus in February 2020,” and that among his multiple victims was a prepubescent boy.

Pendergraph was subsequently charged by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with two counts of possession of child pornography and 2 counts of distribution of child pornography.

When the Georgia Supreme Court in March 2020 declared a statewide Judicial Emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all grand jury proceedings were suspended, leaving Pendergraph’s case pending.

On July 27, Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez filed an accusation in Superior Court that formally charged Pendergraph with one count of invasion of privacy.

Additional information about Pendergraph’s alleged sexual assaults were not available.

As of Friday afternoon, he was being detained at the county jail without bond being set.

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