GAINESVILLE, Ga. — After a jury had been selected on the first day of trial, a former White County, Ga., deputy sheriff pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of producing child pornography involving a 6-year-old girl. The investigation leading to this plea was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Christopher Thomas Davis, 32, of Dahlonega, Ga., entered his plea during a hearing before U.S. Senior District Judge William C. O'Kelley. Davis was indicted on these charges by a federal grand jury Sept. 20, 2011.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "This defendant committed the ultimate act of betrayal. He violated the trust of the 6-year old victim, who he was charged with protecting, and betrayed the trust of his community by committing this heinous act while employed as sworn law enforcement officer."
"Child predators targeting the most vulnerable members of our society are a serious problem, and the problem is even more disturbing when it involves someone in a position of public trust," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. "HSI is committed to arresting individuals who sexually exploit our children and deprive them of their innocence." Nicholson oversees HSI activities in Georgia and the Carolinas.
According to information presented at the guilty plea: Between May 18, 2009 and June 25, 2009, Davis took photographs of a 6-year girl in his custody engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The photographs were taken inside Davis' home in Dahlonega. At that time, and at the time of his arrest, Davis was employed as a sheriff's deputy with the White County Sheriff's Office. On Aug. 25, 2011, federal special agents executed a search warrant at Davis' home where they found several hundred additional images of child pornography on an external hard drive and on a laptop computer. Davis was identified by HSI special agents in Midland, Texas, where pictures of the young victim were seized from another child predator and special agents were able to track her to Georgia.
Davis could receive a maximum sentence of 30 years incarceration, a total fine of $250,000 and supervised release for life. He will be required to register as a sex offender when released from custody. In determining his actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.