(CNN) — Georgia authorities have arrested 14 people they accuse of traveling with the intent to have sex with children, including a suburban Atlanta elementary school principal, according to CNN affiliates and school system officials.
“I was notified (Sunday) that Mt. Carmel Elementary School Principal John McGill was arrested this weekend and is under investigation,” said Douglas County School Superintendent Gordon Pritz.
McGill has been suspended pending the state investigation, and the school system is cooperating with police, he said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s sting targeted “persons who communicate with children on-line and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex,” a news release said.
It continued, “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.”
Before taking the job at Mt. Carmel, McGill was the principal at two other schools — one in the Douglas County system, the other out of state, said county schools spokeswoman Karen Stroud. McGill has worked for the county since 2004, she said.
McGill, who is being held at DeKalb County jail, will appear before a county magistrate Tuesday at 1 p.m., defense attorney Mac Pilgrim said, adding that his client’s cell phone was confiscated as evidence when he was arrested.
The principal was arrested Sunday and is being held on a charge of electronic pornography and violation of the Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 1999, the GBI said.
Pilgrim said Monday he had spoken to McGill’s wife, but not McGill, so he couldn’t say how he intended to plead in the case.
The GBI says that McGill and 13 others were arrested over a four-day period as part of Operation Broken Heart, a sting involving 37 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
“The operation took months of planning. The arrestees, ranging in age from 21 to 64, traveled from all parts of northern Georgia with the intent to meet a child for sex. Some of their occupations included educator, engineer, laborer, salesman, business owner, software developer, and a musician,” a GBI news release said.
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