Berrien Co. registered sex offender arrested for Sexual Exploitation of Children

Release:

On Tuesday, November 23, 2021, Curtis Dwayne Watson, age 60, of Ray City, Berrien County, GA, was arrested and charged with one count of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material) by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit. The GBI CEACC Unit began an investigation into Watson’s online activity after receiving two cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding the online possession and distribution of images depicting child sexual abuse material (CSAM). This investigation led to a search warrant at Watson’s home, where digital devices were searched and seized, and Watson was arrested. The GBI Douglas Office and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office assisted in executing the search warrant. Watson is a registered sex offender in Berrien County.

Watson was transported to the Berrien County Jail upon his arrest.

This investigation is part of the ongoing effort by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, housed within the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, to identify those involved in the child pornography trade. The ICAC Program, created by the U.S. Department of Justice, was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child sexual abuse material, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.

Anyone with information about other cases of child exploitation is asked to contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit at 404-270-8870. Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.

Source: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/region/2021/11/berrien-co-registered-sex-offender-arrested-for-sexual-exploitation-of-children/

Defendant pleads guilty in GBI gang, human trafficking investigation

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Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee announces a conviction by guilty plea in a gang and human trafficking case against Cordarrel Blandburg, age 28, of Clayton County.

Blandburg pled guilty to Violation of Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, Criminal Attempt to Commit Human Trafficking, and False Imprisonment charges following a GBI investigation.  He was sentenced to 20 years to serve 6 years.  He will also have to register as a sex offender. 

The GBI and the Ellijay Police Department arrested Blandburg in 2019 on charges of Violation of Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act and Human Trafficking.  The investigation worked by the GBI’s Gang Task Force (GTF), Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) unit, and Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) unit indicated that an associate of the criminal street gang known as the Gangster Disciples was trafficking a woman in Georgia and Alabama for nearly 2 years.

The victim bravely confronted her trafficker by reading a victim impact statement in court.  She thanked the GBI and her advocate for the work that was put into this case.  She is a survivor and well on her way to recovery.

“This resolution reflects not only the careful and time-consuming investigation of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, but also the GBI’s collaboration with local law enforcement agencies and the Appalachian Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney’s Office,” said District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee. “The AJC District Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our local and state law enforcement agencies investigating human trafficking and criminal street gangs, as well as our diligent prosecution of these cases in the hope that victimization will decline, and fewer people will be forced to suffer the trauma of such crimes.”

“The outcome of this case illustrates the GBI’s dedication to investigate human trafficking and criminal street gangs,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds. “We value our partnership with prosecutors to bring these violators to justice. Protecting victims is of utmost importance.”

This work is a part of the Georgia Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking, which is funded by a Bureau of Justice Assistance grant. The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s (CJCC) Human Trafficking Unit applied for and received funding for Georgia’s first law-enforcement-based statewide task force to address all forms of human trafficking. CJCC oversees the Coalition, which is responsible for creating Georgia’s statewide human trafficking hotline, 1-866-ENDHTGA. Trained law enforcement agents, advocates, and first responders are available 24/7 to answer calls.

ENDHTGA.ORG

Source: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/region/2021/10/defendant-pleads-guilty-in-gbi-gang-human-trafficking-investigation/

VSU’s Bobbie Ticknor leads criminology, criminal justice research group

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Valdosta State University’s Dr. Bobbie Ticknor recently kicked off a three-year term as president of the Criminology Consortium Board of Directors. 

Ticknor’s primary focus with the Criminology Consortium is to set the direction of the organization’s annual CrimCon conference. The 2021 event, “Innovations in Criminal Justice and Criminology: Moving Forward From a Pandemic,” will be held virtually Oct. 18-22 and is free of charge to attend. 

Caption: Valdosta State University’s Bobbie Ticknor president of the Criminology Consortium Board of Directors leads students during research

“For many of us in field, projects stopped when COVID-19 hit,” she said. “We’ve had to come up with innovative ways to continue our work. This conference highlights those efforts, giving both students learning about the field and practitioners doing the research an opportunity to share their experiences.  

“Most criminal justice conferences were cancelled last year. Some are doing face-to-face or hybrid models this year. CrimCon is fully online so anyone can attend. We wanted to make conference going as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.”  

The Criminology Consortium is comprised of academic criminologists and criminal justice researchers who love research. The organization has a strong desire to make sure everyone conducting research on topics related to crime, criminal justice, or public policy at a university, research organization, or criminal justice agency has an outlet for their work.  

“I am truly honored to be able to serve this organization,” Ticknor continued. “I believe in the vision of our founding board. They started this organization so everyone could have the ability to learn more about our field and discuss their work. Criminal justice is a very diverse field with implications across society. Research should not be limited to only those who can afford to attend these types of conferences.” 

Before becoming president of the Criminology Consortium Board of Directors, Ticknor served the organization as a technology consultant, panelist, and session host.   

“Several of my students will be attending the conference,” she shared. “It is a great opportunity for them to see research in action. It also really solidifies the material I present in the classroom. This applied knowledge is invaluable as they transition from student to professionals.”  

Ticknor said the conference will allow VSU’s Department of Criminal Justice students the opportunity to attend sessions, speakers, and roundtables on a variety of topics in criminal justice and criminology — policing, courts and corrections, intersectionality in criminal justice, victimology, and innovations in criminal justice.    

Ticknor joined the VSU faculty in 2014 and currently serves as an associate professor of criminal justice. She also coordinates the Virtual Reality Lab on campus.  

Her areas of expertise include correctional rehabilitation (treatment, program evaluation and design, and curriculum development), technology in criminal justice, sex crimes and sex offender policies and practices, reentry services, and biosocial criminology.    

Her favorite class to teach is CRJU 4200: Seminar in Corrections.  

“It gives me an opportunity to bring in applied learning and several experiential learning activities that students will see when they leave VSU to begin their careers,” she explained. “I also incorporate the use of virtual reality in this course so students can experience different scenarios related to what we learn in class and see the technology at work. I believe virtual reality is part of the future of our field. It is an invaluable tool that is now being widely embraced by researchers and practitioners alike. Our students at VSU, however, are one of only a handful of programs using the technology for learning.” 

Outside of her career in academia, Ticknor has worked in the field of criminal justice for more than two decades. She currently works locally with Prison Reentry Initiative of Georgia, a program of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support, and Reentry that helps rehabilitated offenders navigate the barriers to successful reentry into society while also ensuring public safety and reducing recidivism. She also serves on the National Incarceration Association Advisory Council.  

As a professional consultant, Ticknor conducts trainings, program evaluations, and curriculum/program development for criminal justice agencies across the country. She also works internationally with several criminal justice agencies and universities on programming for corrections and law enforcement. 

On the Web:  

https://www.valdosta.edu/sacj/criminal-justice/ 

https://crimcon.org/

Source: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/local/2021/10/vsus-bobbie-ticknor-leads-criminology-criminal-justice-research-group/

Tallahassee man sentenced to twenty years on charges of child pornography

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Gregory Carroll Johnson, 40, of Tallahassee, Florida, was sentenced to twenty years in federal prison on charges of conspiracy to produce, distribute, possess, and receive child pornography. The sentence, which followed his guilty plea earlier this year, was announced by Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District

of Florida.

Court documents reflect, in July 2019, representatives of local, state, and federal law enforcement executed a search warrant at Johnson’s residence in Tallahassee. The evidence showed that Johnson had been receiving child pornography from an individual in Atlanta. While conducting the search, however, authorities found messages on Johnson’s phone that demonstrated Johnson and co-defendant Madison King had also conspired to produce child pornography. The recovered evidence included short video clips and pictures that King had taken and transmitted to Johnson depicting the sexual abuse of a toddler. Florida investigators quickly obtained emergency legal process to locate King and contacted their Georgia counterparts. That same day, agents with Homeland Security Investigations, in concert with the Berrien County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office, executed a search of King’s Nashville, Georgia residence, whereupon the child was rescued.

“There is no greater charge than the protection of our children,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Coody. “This sentence is yet another example of the unwavering commitment to the protection of our most vulnerable and should serve as a significant deterrent to those who would attempt to harm them. Our law enforcement partners are to be commended for the swift, multi-state investigation, which resulted in the immediate rescue of this child, preventing further abuse.”

“During the course of this investigation, a child was saved from this predator thanks to HSI partnerships in our offices in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and here in Tallahassee,” said HSI Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Micah McCombs.

“There is no crime worse than the crimes against our children,” said Berrien County Sheriff Ray Paulk. “I would like to thank our investigators and our District Attorney’s Office for acting swiftly and efficiently in this case to ensure the safety of this child. I also want to thank all of the local, state, and federal law enforcement that worked together in making a case like this priority.” “We couldn’t be more thankful for Acting U.S. Attorney Jason Coody and his staff for securing another conviction in this case, making the world a safer place for our children to live.”

Johnson’s prison sentence will be followed by ten years of supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender and will be subject to all sex offender conditions.

This conviction was the result of an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Assistant United States Attorneys Meredith L. Steer and Michelle Spaven prosecuted the case.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

Source: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/region/2021/09/tallahassee-man-sentenced-to-twenty-years-on-charges-of-child-pornography/

Sex Offender Rights Group Threatens Sheriff with Lawsuit

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COBB COUNTY, Ga. – Several Georgia counties are catching heat from the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) over the imposition of unlawful registration requirements.

NARSOL is an organization that opposes dehumanizing registries and works to eliminate discrimination against those accused or convicted of sexual offenses. Some of their goals include promoting laws targeting harmful acts instead of entire classes of people, advocating for review and removal of currently committed persons who do not meet the dangerousness criteria, and seeking out programs that effectively reintegrate and rehabilitate former offenders.

The organization first turned their attention to Georgia during the Halloween season when two of our counties decided to “overstep their legal authority” by placing signs at the homes of registered sex offenders warning trick-or-treaters to stay away. One county voluntarily removed the signs after NARSOL’s outreach, however, Butts County required assistance from a federal judge. Judge Marc Treadwell ruled that Sheriff Long and his employees couldn’t place the signs during the Halloween season. NARSOL has since reached out to both counties to discuss further communication and legal challenges going forward, neither of the sheriffs have responded.

In January of 2020, a Georgia county found itself under NARSOL’s radar yet again. Sheriff Neil Warren of Cobb County received a cease-and-desist letter on January 27 for imposing “invented requirements” that are not contained in the Georgia Sex Offender Notification and Registration Act (SORNA).

“Your deputies are imposing invented requirements not contained in the Georgia Sex Offender Notification and Registration Act (SORNA). We strenuously urge you to become familiar with the limitations of your office as it relates to SORNA and train your deputies and staff to act properly and constitutionally,” stated Brenda Jones, NARSOL’s Executive Director.

Jones added that states and communities need to be on notice and aware that they will be challenged whenever they start to threaten the constitutional rights of registered citizens.

Source: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/region/2020/01/sex-offender-rights-group-threatens-sheriff-with-lawsuit/

Butts County Sex Offenders Sue Sheriff Over “No Trick-or-Treat” Signs in Yard

butts-county-sex-offenders-sue-sheriff-over-“no-trick-or-treat”-signs-in-yard

Butts County Sex Offenders Sue Sheriff Over “No Trick-or-Treat” Signs in Yard

BUTTS COUNTY, Ga. – Sex offenders in Butts County are suing to stop the local Sheriff’s Office from discouraging trick-or-treaters with signs in their yards.

WSB-TV reports that the suit asks the court to order a stop to the practice that started last year.

The signs from last year read: “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!! A COMMUNITY SAFETY MESSAGE FROM BUTTS COUNTY SHERIFF GARY LONG.”

Some of the county’s 200 registered sex offenders were even told to display signs themselves or face “unspecified trouble.”

Despite the hearing that is set for Thursday, the sheriff took to his Facebook page to post the following:

“Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community.”

The plaintiff’s attorneys, Mark Yurachek and Mark Begnaud, argue that forcing the men to leave the signs up in their yards was equivalent to “compelling speech,” which is against the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The suit also seeks a trial and for a jury to award the plaintiffs compensation for the stress, fear and humiliation the signs caused last year.

Source: https://valdostatoday.com/news-2/region/2019/10/butts-county-sex-offenders-sue-sheriff-over-no-trick-or-treat-signs-in-yard/

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