Georgia child sex sting nets elementary school principal

Font Size:

Attention middle-aged dudes of America (especially those of you with bad comb-overs and scruffy, gray goatees): little kids have no desire to have sex with you and none of them are trying to meet you online for this purpose.

Some people won’t listen to this sage advice until it’s too late, though. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says one of those people is John McGill, the principal at Mt. Carmel Elementary School in Douglasville, Ga., a distant suburb of Atlanta.

McGill was among 14 men who were arrested as part of a multiagency sting operation called “Operation Broken Heart,” local ABC affiliate WSB-TV reports.

“The purpose of ‘Operation Broken Heart’ was to arrest persons who communicate with children online and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex,” investigators said in a statement obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “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 for having sex.”

The exact day when McGill got busted is not clear. However, state officials say the DeKalb County-centered operation lasted four days and began on Feb. 26.

Police say the 14 arrestees range in age from 21 to 64. They came from all corners of northern Georgia with the understanding that they would be having sex with a child.

McGill is 56 years old. He lives just west of Douglasville in the town of Villa Rica, Ga. He has been the principal at Mt. Carmel Elementary for 14 years. He has earned a Ph.D. from Baptist-affiliated Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. He is married. He has six children and three grandchildren.

In a biography from the 2011-2012 school year discovered by the Journal-Constitution, the grade school principal 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.”

McGill has hired an attorney, Mac Pilgrim, who is mounting a vigorous defense.

“You can’t jump to conclusions,” Pilgrim said, according to the Journal-Constitution. “There’s always more than meets the eye.”

In addition to McGill, other grown men arrested for allegedly trying to have sex with children include an ambulance driver, an engineer, a software developer and a grocery store employee.

The charges against the arrestees fall under a 1999 Georgia law dealing with computer pornography and child exploitation.

A spokeswoman for the Douglas County school district, Karen Stroud, told WSB that McGill has been suspended since the arrest.

Follow Eric on Twitter and on Facebook, and send education-related story tips to

Eric Owens