John McGill, 56, of Villa Rica, Georgia has been arrested in a four day sting operation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit in cooperation with 37 other law enforcement agencies in the state. He and 13 others have been charged with attempting to engage in sex with a child under Georgia’s 1999 Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act. He is also the principal of Mt. Carmel Elementary School in Douglas County, Georgia.
The operation, which the GBI named “Operation Broken Heart” took months to plan and four days to execute. The purpose according to the GBI was to identify adults who communicate with children online and then travel with the intention of having sex with them.
“On-line 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 for having sex,” said a spokesman.
The 14 individuals arrested ranged in age from 21-64 and traveled from all over the state to meet with the “children” they had been chatting with online, expecting to have sex with them.
McGill’s attorney, Mac Pilgrim, cautioned that his client had not yet been afforded the opportunity to tell his side of the story, “You can’t jump to conclusions, there’s always more than meets the eye,” he said.
McGill, who has been suspended, is the principal of the school in the Douglas County public school system and has been an administrator for 18 years 14 as principal. He has a wife, six children and three grandchildren.
His bio on the school’s website (from which all reference to him has been removed) said that he holds a Ph.D in educational leadership from Samford University in Birmingham, as well as degrees from Troy State University and Alabama State University.
In the now missing biography he wrote, “I hope that you continue to find that Mt. Carmel is a ‘happy place’ where children feel safe, understand the high expectations for student achievement and the love for children that is present each and every day.”
Spokeswoman for the school system, Karen Stroud said in a written statement, “Mt. Carmel Elementary School Principal Dr. John McGill has been suspended by the Douglas County School System pending a law enforcement investigation. The system is cooperating fully with law enforcement. Few details, confirmed by law enforcement, are available at this time; more information is expected as the process proceeds.”
Others arrested as a result of the sting include:
- Kahsi Butler, 31, of Conyers (musician)
- Fred Gregory Chatham, 64, of Griffin (field tech)
- Benjamin Hopson, 21, of Lithonia (grocery store employee)
- John Benjamin Katz, 29, of Fairburn (drafter)
- Cheney Li, 22, of Atlanta (software developer)
- J. B. Owen, 58, of Canton (VP of ambulance service)
- Marc Matthew Peterson, 38, of Acworth (culinary business manager)
- Tiana Cousteau Reese, 38, of College Park
- Tracy Antonio Solomon, 50, of Stockbridge (airport crew outfitter)
- Choon Hong David Tan, 52, of Johns Creek (engineer)
- Richard Roger Tumlin, 49, of Winder (load operator)
- Kenneth Walker, 48, of Winder (sales)