Former University of Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery stemming from a March 7 incident in a bar in Remerton, Ga., near Valdosta.
Mettenberger entered the plea in Lowndes County Superior Court and was sentenced under the Georgia First Offender Act to 12 months probation and 80 hours of community service. He also was fined $2,000 and banished from Valdosta for a year.
Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney J. David Miller said the sexual battery charges “were the result of Mettenberger grabbing the breasts and touching the buttocks” of a 20-year-old female Valdosta State University student in the bar.
Mettenberger, kicked off the Georgia team on April 18, originally was arrested outside the bar on five other misdemeanor charges. Miller said those charges — underage possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of possessing false identification -– were dismissed as part of the negotiated plea to the more serious charge that surfaced during the subsequent investigation.
Miller said the Remerton Police Department and the victim “were satisfied with this resolution.” As part of the sentence, Mettenberger is forbidden from having direct or indirect contact with the victim. He also is forbidden from being any place where alcoholic beverages are sold during the term of his probation.
Miller said the misdemeanor offense to which Mettenberger pleaded guilty will not require him to register as a sex offender.Mettenberger, in a written statement released through his Valdosta attorney, said he “took full responsibility” for his actions.
“I first want to apologize to the young lady my actions most directly affected, and I hope that by me accepting responsibility for my actions that she can move on with her life,” Mettenberger said in the statement.
“I would also like to apologize to my family, friends, teammates, the coaching staff and the University of Georgia. Though it was very uncharacteristic of me to act the way I did, I still accept full responsibility for this event. I deeply regret my actions of that night and can assure that these actions will never happen again. I intend to do everything in my power to restore my image and rebuild the trust people had in me before.”
Mettenberger, 18, also expressed hope that he may get “a second chance” to play football at another college. “I hope to have another opportunity to demonstrate to everyone that I have learned a tremendously hard lesson and will make the most of any other opportunity,” he said.
Mettenberger’s attorney, Zachary R. Cowart, said his client would not comment beyond the statement. “He has accepted full responsibility for his actions and has suffered public humiliation and lost the ability to play football for the University of Georgia,” Cowart said in an e-mail.
Miller said that under the First Offender Act, Mettenberger’s record will be cleared if he successfully completes probation.
Mettenberger, a graduate of Oconee County High School, was kicked off the Georgia team before playing in a game for the Bulldogs. He was redshirted as a freshman last fall and was in a three-way competition for the starting quarterback job in spring practice, which concluded on April 10, eight days before Mettenberger was tossed from the team for what coach Mark Richt called a violation of team rules.