Principal among 14 arrested in child sex sting - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Principal among 14 arrested in child sex sting

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Cheney Li (Left) and Benjamin Hopson (Right) Cheney Li (Left) and Benjamin Hopson (Right)
Dane Wolfe (Left) and Choon Tan (Right) Dane Wolfe (Left) and Choon Tan (Right)
J.B. Owen (Left) and Fred Chatham (Right) J.B. Owen (Left) and Fred Chatham (Right)
John McGill (Left) and John Katz (Right) John McGill (Left) and John Katz (Right)
Marc Peterson (Left) and Kashi Butler (Right) Marc Peterson (Left) and Kashi Butler (Right)

An elementary school principal was among 14 people arrested in DeKalb County in connection with an undercover child sex sting.

According to a representative with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, all 14 people traveled from all parts of north Georgia with the intent to meet a child for sex.

The sting, called "Operation Broken Heart," Involved dozens of police agencies.

Agents chatted with the individuals online and then set up meeting places where they thought they would be meeting children under 16 for sex.

"They communicated with child predators through chat rooms or ads and the child predators communicated with them and talked to them about when to have sex," said GBI spokesperson Sherry Lang.

One of those arrested, John McGill, is a principal at Mt. Carmel Elementary School in Douglas County. McGill has been head of the school for seven years.

Parents arriving at school Monday morning were shocked to hear the news.

"Totally caught by surprise," said Titus Nelson. Nelson has a daughter who's in fifth grade at Mount Carmel.

"Basically just told them that their principal got into some trouble. He made a mistake and he needs some help," said Nelson. "So got to keep it as calm as possible, not to scare her too much, but at the same time, it is kind of troubling and disappointing as would be expected as a parent."

"I'm really devastated because my daughter who's 16, my son who's 14, they all went there and I was just there Thursday at a ceremony for my niece, and I'm just devastated," said Shannon Jackson.

A representative for the Douglas County School System issued the following statement Sunday afternoon:

"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."

The following, ages 21 to 64, were arrested:

  • 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)
  • John McGill, 56, of Villa Rica (elementary school principal)
  • 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)
  • Dane Andrew Wolfe, 34, of Snellville (driver)

DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James may have to prosecute the cases. He and others in law enforcement say the Internet is a lifeline and a valuable tool, but also very dangerous.

"If you have a child at home, there's always the potential risk with them," said James.

Authorities say additional charges are possible.

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