Loading....

Gov. Kemp aims three bills at human trafficking

gov.-kemp-aims-three-bills-at-human-trafficking

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday unveiled the specifics of a crackdown on human trafficking he proposed in more broad terms in last week’s State of the State address to the General Assembly.

Kemp asked the Legislature to support three bills that would tighten restrictions in existing state law targeting human traffickers and, in one case, implement a federal rule promulgated last year by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

When he took office last year, Kemp made going after human traffickers a high priority, citing Georgia’s unenviable status as a state with one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the nation. He formed a state commission to tackle the issue and installed his wife, first lady Marty Kemp, as one of three co-chairs.

“We’ve been working around the clock for the past year … fighting this fight to end human trafficking,” Gov. Kemp said during a ceremony announcing his bills. “These pieces of legislation represent a bold next step in this fight.”

The bills the governor plans to introduce during the coming days would:

Allow victims of human ♦ trafficking to restrict access to their criminal records. Victims caught up in prostitution networks formed by traffickers often have trouble finding jobs and/or places to live.

Close a loophole in the state’s sex offender registry law that does not require Georgians convicted of a felony for keeping a place of prostitution, pimping and pandering to register as a sex offender. The legislation also would criminalize improper sexual contact by a foster parent.

♦ Allow the state to revoke the commercial driver’s license of anyone convicted of trafficking an individual for labor servitude or sexual servitude, in accordance with a new federal rule.

(tncms-asset)4aacdafc-3637-11ea-9b82-a73ef13b6a54(1)(/tncms-asset)

First lady Marty Kemp said the need to add foster parents to the state’s improper sexual contact code was brought to the GRACE Commission’s attention by an actual case.

“There is no consent between a foster parent and a child in his or her custody,” she said. “The law needs to reflect that.”

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a member of the GRACE Commission, said stories from victims of human trafficking around the state helped generate the legislative package Kemp unveiled Tuesday.

“We’ve taken these opportunities to create legislation that’s going to truly make a difference,” he said.

“We care about the vulnerable, the forgotten, the hurting,” added Georgia House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, another of the commission’s co-chairs. “The perpetrators will have no safe harbor in Georgia.”

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/news/gov-kemp-aims-three-bills-at-human-trafficking/article_0b2d6b38-3c88-11ea-9171-436bcfd0bfd2.html

Deputies find Bartow sex offenders complying with laws requiring they be in registered residences

deputies-find-bartow-sex-offenders-complying-with-laws-requiring-they-be-in-registered-residences

All sex offenders registered in Bartow County were found to be compliant with Georgia sex offender laws requiring verified residences during a recent annual sweep by sheriff’s deputies statewide.

Bartow sheriff’s deputies and officers with the Cherokee Judicial Circuit Department of Community Supervision participated in a statewide sheriffs’ initiative called Operation Watchful Eye IV recently.

The action was part of a statewide effort by Georgia sheriffs to verify registered sex offenders’ residences and check compliance with state laws within each county, said Sgt. Jonathan White of the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office.

A total of 246 sex offenders were registered in Bartow County in late October, including 11 sexually dangerous predators and four homeless offenders, White said.

“Residence verifications and compliance checks were attempted on each of the 246 registered offenders as well as one offender who moved and registered in Bartow County during the week of the operation,” White said.

Deputies successfully verified 208 were in the residences they registered. Offenders not seen were either working or at counseling sessions when deputies came to verify the addresses, White said.

“Contact has since been made with the (offenders) not seen during Operation Watchful Eye IV,” he said.

White added that deputies arrested two offenders for outstanding probation violations.

The sheriffs’ initiative led to the arrests of 40 sex offenders and warrants issued to 147 for violations of state registration laws statewide between Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, a news release stated.

During the seven-day operation, deputies conducted 7,535 residence verifications; issued 18 new warrants for violations of the sex offender registry law, and 13 warrants for new sex offenses; issued 48 warrants for residency violations of the sex offender registry and 28 warrants for other miscellaneous new charges.

Ninety-six new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, the release stated.

“More importantly, it was discovered that 190 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down,” it stated.

The first coordinated effort to verify offenders’ locations across the state was launched In 2015 to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period.

Georgia’s sheriffs subsequently made Operation Watchful Eye an annual effort due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, the release stated

“The Office of Sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school,” a release from the Georgia Sheriff’s Association stated.

“The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network, and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer.”

Visit the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office website or http://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-sex-offender-registry for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders locally and statewide.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/west_georgia/news/deputies-find-bartow-sex-offenders-complying-with-laws-requiring-they-be-in-registered-residences/article_e5ea0dd4-0b0b-11ea-8d2b-a3bdda5732ca.html

Operation Watchful Eye IV leads to arrests

operation-watchful-eye-iv-leads-to-arrests

Thanks to an initiative involving Georgia’s sheriffs, 40 sex offenders were arrested and 147 warrants issued across the state from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1 for violations of state registration laws.

In 2015, the first coordinated effort across the state was launched to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period. The coordinated initiative became known as Operation Watchful Eye. Due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, Georgia’s sheriffs have made this an annual operation and recently conducted Operation Watchful Eye IV.

The office of sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school. Throughout the year, each sheriff’s office verifies addresses provided by registered sex offenders. While conducting residence verifications, deputies also assure additional registration requirements are being adhered to.

The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer. In numerous counties, deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation officers and Department of Community Supervision probation/parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders comply with the law.

Preliminary reporting by 77 sheriff’s offices reveals 9,178 registered sex offenders, 240 predators and 123 homeless sex offenders are currently living in their counties. During the seven-day operation, 7,535 residence verifications were conducted, 96 new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, 18 new warrants were issued for violations of the sex offender registry law, 13 warrants were issued for new sex offenses, 48 warrants were issued for residency violations of the sex offender registry and 28 warrants were issued for other miscellaneous new charges.

More importantly, it was discovered that 190 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/news/state/operation-watchful-eye-iv-leads-to-arrests/article_a74b74ef-b925-5fb2-b802-2e09e62a1dc3.html

Polk County Sheriff’s Office takes part in Operation Watchful Eye

polk-county-sheriff’s-office-takes-part-in-operation-watchful-eye

While local citizens were working, sleeping or trick or treating the Polk County Sheriff’s Office spent the last seven days completing this years’ Operation Watchful Eye, according to a release from the agency.

In a coordinated effort across Georgia sheriffs’ offices, deputies participated in statewide residence verification and compliance checks and other non-compliant matters of registered sex offenders. Locally, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Johnny Moats offered thanks to Deputy Jeff Walker and the many others who participated in operation.

“The purpose of these operations is to keep the state safe by creating awareness especially during the Halloween Holiday week,” the release stated.

Sheriffs’ offices are required by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders live, work and attend school.

During the seven-day operation, Polk County deputies completed 143 residence verification checks, with three of those listed as registered predators, five listed as homeless and a new warrant was issued for violations of the sex offender registry law and two new sex offenders moved into the County during this time period.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/news/state/polk-county-sheriffs-office-takes-part-in-operation-watchful-eye/article_28bcb2da-77ee-5df8-9117-9e77a66fa0d8.html

Safety first: Tips for Cobb Halloween revelers

safety-first:-tips-for-cobb-halloween-revelers

Everyone likes a scare on Halloween, so long as it’s safe.

Accordingly, Cobb County authorities are sharing tips for trick-or-treaters and other holiday revelers about avoiding harm while having fun Thursday.

Halloween, observed every Oct. 31, has become synonymous worldwide with costumes, candy and jack-o-lanterns made from hollowed-out pumpkins.

In Cobb, thousands of children and their parents are expected to participate in festivities during the typically busiest hours between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., going door-to-door within neighborhoods seeking treats from generous residents and administering tricks to those short on sweet offerings.

With so many costumed children likely to be pounding the pavement Thursday afternoon and evening, Cobb police officers and sheriff’s deputies are asking everyone in the county to be especially mindful of pedestrians while driving, particularly within residential subdivisions and communities.

Local authorities are also reminding trick-or-treaters not to enter the home of any stranger and to have a way of communicating with elders or peers if participating in Halloween activities alone.

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office is conducting “highly concentrated patrols” throughout the county Thursday evening, spokesman Glenn Daniel told the MDJ.

It is common practice in Georgia for law enforcement personnel to more closely monitor registered sex offenders on Halloween, given the potential on the day for children to unwittingly visit the homes of those on the list.

Sex offenders are generally subject to parole or probation conditions preventing them from interacting with children and even decorating their homes for Halloween, per state law.

In some cases, county authorities have even placed warning signs at the addresses of registered sex offenders during October to dissuade would-be trick-or-treaters.

Below are some Halloween safety guidelines from Cobb police and the sheriff’s office.

Safety tips for Halloween

♦ Expect more pedestrians in your neighborhood, drive slowly and eliminate distractions like cell phones. Turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.

♦ Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Be especially alert for kids during those hours.

♦ Avoid walking in the middle of roads or criss-crossing across roadways to get from house to house. Try to stay on one side of the street and cross roads at corners with traffic signals or crosswalks.

♦ If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.

♦ Dress so you’re easily visible at night and use flashlights, reflectors, reflective tape, glowsticks, or other items to increase visibility. Make sure your costume is the right size to prevent trips and falls. Choose face paint over masks when possible as masks can limit children’s vision.

♦ Parents should walk with their children and use this as an opportunity to reiterate pedestrian safety rules, like teaching children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.

♦ For older children who are not accompanied by a parent, remind them that they should never enter into the house of someone they do not know. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, tell them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

♦ Make sure children who are not accompanied by a parent have a way to call for help in case of an emergency.

♦ Report any suspicious activity.

♦ If in doubt about sweets offered by residents, only eat those still in the original wrapping or packaging.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/news/safety-first-tips-for-cobb-halloween-revelers/article_40273de4-fb58-11e9-9d71-3b0a309b9e80.html

Roswell, Alpharetta men among 24 arrested in Forsyth County child sex sting

roswell,-alpharetta-men-among-24-arrested-in-forsyth-county-child-sex-sting

Richard Edward Hazelwood, 49, of Roswell and Austin Wayne Rhodes, 22, and Mahesh Kumar Saroj, 35, of Alpharetta were among the 24 arrested in an undercover Forsyth County child sex sting, Forsyth police say.

“Operation Just Cause” was a four-day proactive effort centered in Cumming, Forsyth County. The suspects, ranging in age from 19 to 65, traveled from areas around North Georgia, and other states, with the intent to meet a child for sex.

Hazelwood was charged with distribution of child pornography. Rhodes is being charged with illegal solicitation, entice or seduction and electronically furnishing obscene material. Kumar is being charged with child molestation, trafficking and illegal solicitation, entice or seduction.

Two people that was arrested were registered sex offenders. Twenty-nine year-old Michael Keith Coker is already a sex offender and allegedly smuggled an illegally possessed phone smuggled inside the Augusta State Prison.

Roger Kyle Nicholson, 44, of Gainesville was arrested for allegedly possessing suspected methamphetamine.

Thirty-one mobile phones were seized as evidence during the operation.

The goal of “Operation Just Cause” was to arrest persons who communicate with children on-line and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex. Additionally, the operation targeted those that are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor.

Online child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex.

During the multi-day operation, investigators had numerous exchanges with subjects on various social media or internet platforms. Many of those were exchanges in which the subject initiated contact with whom they believed to be a minor and directed the conversation towards sex. In some of those cases, the subject introduced obscene or lewd content, often exposing the minor (undercover) to pornography or requesting the child take nude or pornographic images for them.

Although some websites promote themselves as being for “adults-only” it is not uncommon for law enforcement to work cases in which children access these sites, establish profiles claiming to be older, and then find themselves vulnerable to victimization, harassment, blackmail, or assault.

Several subjects were identified as communicating simultaneously with multiple investigators posing as minors.

The following persons were arrested and charged in Forsyth County as part of “Operation Just Cause”:

♦ Robert Harley Martin, W/M, Dahlonega, GA, 38 years of age, truck driver

♦ Erik Delgado, W/M, Gainesville, GA, 26 years of age, sales associate

♦ Alan Thomas Bryant, W/M, Murrayville, GA, 40 years of age, unemployed

♦ Kyle Alexander Williams, B/M, Stone Mountain, GA, 32 years of age, landscaper

♦ Roger Kyle Nicholson; W/M, Gainesville, GA, 44 years of age, unemployed

♦ Jacob Perry Yeamans, W/M, Madison, Wisconsin, 61 years of age

♦ Rene Mauricio Posada; W/M; Marietta, GA, 29 years of age, sales manager

♦ Jackson Cain Butler, W/M, Calhoun, GA, 20 years of age, sales

♦ John Andrew Odell, W/M, Cumming, GA, 40 years of age, truck driver

♦ Michael Keith Coker, W/M; Augusta State Prison, 29 years of age, unemployed

♦ Richard Edward Hazelwood, B/M, Roswell, GA 49 years of age, drug representative

♦ Johnathon Dale Butler, W/M, Palmall, TN, 25 years of age, unemployed

♦ Mackenzi Faye Stinson, W/F, Palmall, TN, 19 years of age, sales associate

♦ Mahesh Kumar Saroj, W/M, Alpharetta, GA, 35 years of age, Information Technology

♦ Christopher Scott Taylor, W/M, Cumming, GA, 29 years of age, construction

♦ Joseph Ryan Lisnock, W/M, Gainesville, GA, 22 years of age, Landscaper

♦ Dylan Blair Nessmith, W/M, Johns Creek, GA, 23 years of age, mechanic

♦ Austin Wayne Rhodes, W/M, Alpharetta, GA, 22 years of age, Mechanic

♦ Daniel Dennis Rogan W/M, Witchita, KS, 47 years of age, Vehicle Transporter

♦ Jason Lee McIntyre, W/M, Gainesville, GA, 35 years of age, Supervisor

♦ Gavin Austen Peppers, W/M, Bowman, GA, 21 years of age, hotel clerk

♦ Jimmy Webster Roy, W/M, Gainesville, GA, 21 years of age, mover

♦ Anthony Christian Ceja, W/M, Lawrenceville, GA, 23 years of age, laborer

♦ Steven Charles Vinnenberg W/M, Cumming, Ga. 65 years of age

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/north_fulton/roswell-alpharetta-men-among-24-arrested-in-forsyth-county-child-sex-sting/article_ae4470a6-d652-11e9-9735-5fa19e48d94a.html

Georgia Supreme Court hears Catoosa County sexual battery case

georgia-supreme-court-hears-catoosa-county-sexual-battery-case

The Georgia Supreme on Tuesday, Sept. 10, heard a Catoosa County case in which Jacob Daniel Jones was convicted of sexual battery involving a 15-year-old girl.

JONES V. THE STATE (S19A1248)

A young man who was convicted in Catoosa County of sexual battery for touching the breasts, buttocks, and groin of a 15-year-old girl is appealing his conviction, arguing that Georgia’s sexual battery statute is unconstitutional.

FACTS:

On Aug. 12, 2013, Jacob Daniel Jones, then 18 years old, visited the home of J.S., who was less than 2 months shy of her 16th birthday. J.S. was sitting in her living room with three of her young friends when Jones came to the door. According to briefs filed by the State, J.S. “had no reason to believe that Aug. 12, 2013, would need to be a day she remembered. However, when Mr. Jones showed up, he was going to make it a day for J.S. that would live in infamy.” In a written statement, J.S. said that when she answered the door, Jones, who had not been invited, grabbed her arm and pulled her outside. She said he immediately spun her around and pressed his body against hers. He then grabbed her chest, squeezed her buttocks, and put his hand between her legs. Later at trial, however, J.S. said that when Jones came to the door and asked to speak to J.S., she stepped outside, and the two sat on the porch talking “about friends and such.” When Jones suggested the two have a few minutes alone together, J.S. grew uncomfortable and invited the others to come outside so they could all play basketball. According to the State, “J.S. understood what Mr. Jones wanted from her, but she was clear when it came to Mr. Jones’s advance that they did ‘not need to do that.’” J.S. and Jones, along with her three friends, then went to the end of the yard to play basketball. While walking to the court, Jones was holding his cell phone. Because J.S. did not want Jones taking photos of her, she took Jones’s phone from him and put it down her bra, according to one of her friends, who testified at trial. The friend said that when Jones asked J.S. to give it back, J.S. said, “If you want it, you’ll have to come and get it yourself.” “And he did,” the witness added. Another friend, however, testified that J.S. had put her iPod down her shirt, not Jones’s phone, and the witness said he had no recollection of her tempting Jones to “come and get it.” He said he did see Jones touch J.S. in “the uppertory part of her body,” touching J.S. “in a wrong way.” “While it is true that J.S. was making sexually explicit jokes, did take Mr. Jones’s phone, and did hug Mr. Jones, these actions did not provide Mr. Jones permission to unleash his concupiscent desires,” the State has written in the Facts section of its brief. “J.S., a ‘very huggable person,’ gave Mr. Jones a hug and in response Mr. Jones moved his hands from a consensual hug to her ‘crotch area’ over her clothing, to her ‘behind’ and then put his hands on her ‘chest, boob area,’ all the while stating, ‘if I wanted to, I could get you there too.’” J.S. eventually told her father what had happened.

In November 2013, a Catoosa County grand jury indicted Jones for three counts of Sexual Battery Against a Child Under 16, charging him with making intentional physical contact with the intimate parts of J.S., a child under the age of 16, without her consent. Jones’s attorney filed a Motion to Quash Indictment as Unconstitutional and Disproportional. Following a hearing, the trial court denied his motion. Jones sought to appeal the trial court’s denial of his motion to the Georgia Supreme Court, but in April 2014, this Court denied his application for a pre-trial appeal. Following a bench trial before Superior Court Judge Ralph Van Pelt, with no jury, the judge returned a verdict of guilty on all three counts. Jones was sentenced to five years and is currently in prison. Jones now appeals to the state Supreme Court.

ARGUMENTS:

Jones’s attorneys argue his convictions and sentence should be reversed because the state’s sexual battery statute violates his constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. “Because Mr. Jones faces five years’ imprisonment and lifetime registration as a sexual offender for touching J.S., yet would only be subject to misdemeanor punishment for having full-fledged sexual intercourse with her, the application of the sexual battery statute in this case violates Mr. Jones’s rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as Article I, Section I, Paragraphs I, II, and XVII of the Georgia Constitution of 1983,” Jones’s attorneys argue in briefs. Georgia Code § 16-6-22.1 (b) states that, “A person commits the offense of sexual battery when he or she intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.” Generally, the punishment for sexual battery is as a misdemeanor. However, if the victim is under the age of 16, the defendant is subject to a prison sentence of one to five years. The statute does not contain a “Romeo and Juliet” provision, reducing punishment based on the relative ages of the victim and offender. A person convicted of felony sexual battery also faces lifetime registration as a sexual offender. In contrast, the statutes governing child molestation and statutory rape contain “Romeo and Juliet” provisions. Both crimes are punishable as misdemeanors where the “victim is at least 14 but less than 16 years of age and the person convicted is 18 years of age or younger and is no more than four years older than the victim.” Furthermore, if convicted of child molestation or statutory rape, the defendant is not required to register as a sex offender. “Based on their ages, Mr. Jones easily could have been charged with misdemeanor child molestation for his alleged conduct,” his attorneys argue. “Instead, Mr. Jones faces five years’ imprisonment and lifetime registration as a sexual offender,” in violation of his constitutional rights. “As applied in this case, the penalty attached to sexual battery is grossly disproportional to the crime.” Furthermore, Jones’s convictions should be reversed because the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict beyond a reasonable doubt, the attorneys contend. At trial, during cross-examination, J.S. conceded that she was afraid her boyfriend would learn about her flirtation with Jones. “In this case, J.S. was untruthful with law enforcement because she feared her jealous and abusive boyfriend would learn that she flirted with Mr. Jones. On direct examination, the State’s own witnesses testified to observing only one instance of touching: J.S. placed a cell phone in her bra and invited Mr. Jones to retrieve it. Mr. Jones retrieved the cell phone, but made no additional physical contact. In that scenario, any touching of J.S. would be deemed incidental to retrieving the phone and consensual. On direct examination, the State’s witnesses admitted that J.S. ‘had asked all of us to lie.’”

The State, represented by the District Attorney’s office, argues that, “The Legislature is presumed to enact legislation with full knowledge of the existing condition of the law, including that of the United States Constitution and Georgia Constitution.” Georgia’s sexual battery statute is narrowly tailored to prohibit the touching of any person without his/her consent, and includes an enhanced punishment when the victim is under the age of 16. “As applied in this case, the legislature protected this victim from exactly the conduct it intended to protect children under the age of 16 from,” the State argues in briefs. “The child, J.S., and Mr. Jones were flirting. The child did consent to the non-sexual contact of a hug, but did not consent to the groping of her breasts, buttock, or vagina.” Furthermore, the enhancement of the punishment under the sexual battery statute when a victim is under the age of 16, while there is a downward deviation for offenders of child molestation who are of similar age to their victims, “speaks to society’s views on protecting minors that are neither factually consenting to the activity and are not of legal age to consent.” Jones’s crime “was not a passive felony,” the State argues. “Competent evidence showed that Mr. Jones did touch the intimate parts of J.S., a child under the age of 16, without her permission.” His convictions should stand because the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict beyond a reasonable doubt. “J.S. is flirtatious, but that is not a sufficient reason for Mr. Jones to inappropriately touch J.S. without her consent,” the State argues. Furthermore, “Mr. Jones affirmed to the trial court at sentencing that his actions were in fact wrong and that he did need to be punished, thus affirming the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to support the verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Attorneys for Appellant (Jones): Sean Lowe, David Dunn

Attorneys for Appellee (State): Herbert “Buzz” Franklin, District Attorney, Melissa Pittman, Asst. D.A.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/news/state/georgia-supreme-court-hears-catoosa-county-sexual-battery-case/article_e5092115-b325-57e8-84c0-b79aab06da81.html

Operation Horizon concludes

operation-horizon-concludes

Operation Horizon, in which several agencies — including the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office — conducted 97 sex offender compliance checks and attempted to locate numerous individuals wanted on felony warrants, concluded Aug. 1.

Personnel conducted 97 sex offender compliance checks July 29-30. Of those checks, 91 individuals were found to be compliant and six individuals were arrested.

One arrest was the result of the offender possessing thousands of images of child pornography. The other five arrests involved possession of methamphetamine, marijuana, firearms and one parole violation. Two laptops, two cell phones, multiple thumb drives, multiple DVDs and one firearm were seized as a result of those arrests.

July 31 and Aug. 1 personnel concentrated on individuals wanted on felony warrants from Catoosa County which resulted in 22 individuals being arrested.

Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk thanked the various agencies that participated “for their hard work and dedication to keeping our community safe”: Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshal’s Service & Task Force officers, Homeland Security, and Georgia Department of Community Services.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/news/state/operation-horizon-concludes/article_0e22d210-478f-5ddf-8f74-e245218156ae.html

NWGa sheriffs remove GPS trackers but continue monitoring sexual predators in their counties

nwga-sheriffs-remove-gps-trackers-but-continue-monitoring-sexual-predators-in-their-counties

Across Northwest Georgia, ankle monitors are being removed from sexual predators who have served their time — but authorities will still be keeping tabs on them for the rest of their lives.

Under state law, people convicted of sex offenses must register their addresses with the sheriff’s office of the county where they reside and keep it updated every time they move.

“They’re still required to abide by all the rules of the sex offender registry,” said Deputy Anthony Cromer, who runs the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office registry. “We check on them multiple times a year.”

They each hold one of three classifications: Level 1, Level 2 or Sexually Dangerous Predator. Their classification is assigned upon their release from prison by the Sexual Offender Registry Review Board, based on the risk that they’ll re-offend.

“Anybody classified as a dangerous predator is required to wear an ankle monitor,” Cromer said. “It used to be for life, but now it’s just while they’re on probation or parole.”

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously ruled in early March that requiring people to be continuously tracked by GPS after they’ve completed their sentences “authorizes a patently unreasonable search that runs afoul of the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Gordon County’s registry had 172 residents listed on the sex offender registry, with seven of those classified as predators. The oldest conviction date was 1993, for aggravated child molestation, with a second offense in 2018 for sexual battery of a child. The other six men had single convictions, all child crimes, ranging from 2004 to 2011.

The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office maintains the addresses of registered sex offenders in its database. A map can be found on the sheriff’s office website, gordonsheriff.org/resources/sex-offender-registry. This map “is based upon a third party database of coordinates from a web-based mapping tool provided by Google.”

Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap announced earlier this month that the electronic monitors had been removed from the four predators registered in his county who fit the criteria of the order.

Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader was doing it Wednesday, according to Serpentfoot — a Rome native whose 89-year-old husband James A. Ragan is monitored in that county. She said they had previously petitioned for removal due to Ragan’s health and the court ruling comes as a relief.

“He’s bedridden, he has home health care and that thing was cutting into his little skinny legs,” she said. “It was cruel.”

Serpentfoot and Ragan still claim he’s innocent of the child molestation charge that put him in jail in 2006 and on the registry for life. The vast majority of the sexual predators listed in Floyd and surrounding counties were convicted of crimes against children.

In Floyd County, 10 of the 240 residents on the registry as of Wednesday were classified as predators and all of their crimes involved minors.

The oldest conviction dates to 1990, for child molestation, and two other men were convicted in the late ’90s. Three men on the list have two or more convictions several years apart.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation maintains an online searchable statewide sex offender registry and each county sheriff has a local tracker on their website. Floyd, Polk and Bartow counties also have contracts with OffenderWatch, a national sex offender and community notice service.

Polk County had five sexual predators among the 122 residents listed on its registry — all convicted of child molestation.

Sentencing dates ranged from 1996 to 2010 and none of the five had second offenses.

Three of Chattooga County’s 122 registered sex offenders are classified as predators. Two were convicted of child molestation and one served time for enticing a child for indecent purposes.

Bartow had a total of 261 sex offenders registered, including 11 classed as sexual predators. Conviction dates ranged from 1983 to 2013, and one man had two convictions for sexual assault more than a decade apart — both in Wisconsin.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/news/state/nwga-sheriffs-remove-gps-trackers-but-continue-monitoring-sexual-predators-in-their-counties/article_4c4812c6-42b7-5dca-92df-2ac31aff624c.html

West Georgia residents among 76 charged in child exploitation crackdown

west-georgia-residents-among-76-charged-in-child-exploitation-crackdown

West Georgia residents were among 76 people arrested during a mutually coordinated operation between eight southeastern states targeting child exploitation.

Those arrested in Georgia were charged with crimes pursuant to the state’s Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007. Additional charges are likely and other arrests will occur after analysis of seized digital devices, a news release stated.

Douglas, Paulding and Bartow county residents included:

•Anthony L. Crane, 39, of Cartersville, a construction worker;

•Aaron C. Helton, 36, of Adairsville, unknown occupation;

•Bryan E. Holloway, 45, of Winston, a truck driver;

•Jonathan Okelly, 37, of Douglasville, unknown occupation.

•Mark Horn, 31, of Dallas, a vocational training nonprofit employee;

Horn was released from the Paulding County Jail on an $11,200 bond after being charged with sexual exploitation of children, the Paulding sheriff’s office reported.

In Georgia, the 34 arrestees ranged in ages from 17 to 63. Some of their occupations included construction worker, truck driver, disc jockey, youth director and a restaurant worker, according to a news release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The joint operation, named Operation Southern Impact II, was coordinated by nine Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in those eight states and focused on persons who possess and distribute child pornography and those who are sexually exploiting children in other ways using technology and the internet, the news release stated.

A total of 13 children were rescued or identified as victims.

A total of 222 law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies, including agencies the Bartow, Douglas and Paulding sheriff’s offices and Cartersville police participated in the operation.

In Georgia, a total of 38 search warrants were executed and 12 knock and talks were conducted during Operation Southern Impact II. Law enforcement officers conducting the searches were looking for evidence of possession and distribution of child pornography using the internet as well as evidence of other child exploitation related crimes.

Six of those arrested in Georgia traveled for the purpose of meeting and having sex with a minor. There was one arrest involving “sextortion” which involves subjects that obtain sexually explicit photos of minors and then threaten or blackmail the victim for additional obscene images or videos, the release stated.

The investigative actions resulted from both reactive cases such as cybertips received by each ICAC Task Force from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and proactive cases such as peer-to-peer investigations and proactive, on-line undercover investigations.

During the course of the operation, some of the investigations extended to other states including Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

While investigators regularly target the trading of all types of child pornography, in Operation Southern Impact II investigators targeted those seeking out and distributing the most violent child pornography involving infants and toddlers.

Investigators found instances in which arrested subjects, some of whom had no prior criminal history, were working in positions of trust or jobs where interaction with children is common.

Eight registered sex offenders were encountered in Georgia, during the course of this operation, four of those offenders were charged with new crimes related to child pornography while the others were charged with various compliance violations.

There was an additional subject who had an arrest for a prior sex offense but was not a registered sex offender.

At least one foster parent with young children was arrested. There were also searches conducted where guns were found and illegal drugs were discovered.

Over the course of the operation, 196 digital devices were examined and 474 digital media and devices were seized as evidence.

Source: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/west_georgia/news/west-georgia-residents-among-76-charged-in-child-exploitation-crackdown/article_91ae101a-295f-11e8-ab58-5bc3d054d2a0.html

Back To Top