Jackson County Schools Employee Charged In Child Porn Sting

Custodian and Substitute Bus Drive Busted in Porn Sting

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William Pruitt - Jackson County Schools - Smokey Mountain Elementary

A Jackson County Schools employee has been charged in an undercover child porn sting.

William Pruitt, age 48, was arrested and charged under the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007 with the sexual exploitation of a minor.

The Jackson County Schools employee was both a substitute bus driver and a custodian at Smokey Mountain Elementary school. Pruitt was also employed in the Macon County School district in Georgia as a bus driver.

According to the Macon County News, Pruitt was arrested after a long-term undercover investigation named, “Operation Hidden Guardian.”

Pruitt’s charge of sexual exploitation of a minor follows an undercover investigation that specifically targeted individuals who were 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. The children these predators target are both boys and girls. Since 2014, the Georgia ICAC Task Force has arrested more than 120 people in similar operations.

“Operation Hidden Guardian” involved joint cooperation with several agencies including: Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Floyd County Police Department Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center (GISAC), Glynn County Police Department, LaGrange Police Department, Marietta Police Department, Tallapoosa Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Secret Service.

The investigation took several months to plan and over a five-day period, investigators engaged in more than 600 exchanges between individuals on social media platforms. More than 400 of those were exchanges in which the subject initiated contact and directed the conversation towards sex. The exchanges involved websites used for dating, socializing, or even websites used for classified advertisements. Some persons when told they were talking with a minor reacted appropriately and ceased communications. However, in some of those instances, the subject continued to communicate. Over the course of the operation, almost 40 cases were established that met the threshold for arrest. Twenty-one of those cases were concluded with arrests. In some of those cases, the adult introduced obscene or lewd content, often exposing the minor (undercover agent) to pornography or requesting the child take nude or pornographic images for them.The exchanges lead to the arrest of 20 men who were arrested for charges such as electronic pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor. The individuals who were arrested ranged from 22 to 55 years old and were from North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia.

Kim Elliot, the Interim Jackson County Superintendent of Schools, told media that Pruitt was was fired after district officials learned of his arrest.  Elliot urges anyone with more information to contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at 828-631-1125.

Pruitt is the 51st education related arrest being tracked by American Lens in 2017.


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