Gray, GA (April 13, 2023) – On Thursday, April 13, 2023, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit, with the assistance of the Jones County Sheriff’s Office and the GBI Milledgeville Regional Investigative Office, executed a search warrant at a home in Jones County, Georgia regarding a Sexual Exploitation of Children investigation. The investigation began after the GBI CEACC Unit, the host agency for the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, received a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The cybertip involved the possession of explicit child sexual abuse material, commonly referred to as child pornography, which resolved to a resident of Jones County, GA.
As a result of the search warrant execution, GBI agents and digital forensic investigators seized electronic devices found to contain child sexual abuse material. The following individual was arrested:
Kevin Harden, age 42, of Gray, Georgia, was charged with two counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Possession of Child Pornography) and two counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Distribution of Child Pornography). Harden was taken to the Jackson County Jail.
During the course of this investigation, it was determined that Harden was employed as a Deputy Sheriff for the Jones County Sheriff’s Office. The Jones County Sheriff’s Office immediately terminated Harden from this position.
“The sexual exploitation of children will not be tolerated at any level, particularly from those in law enforcement that are sworn to protect,” said GBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Johnston, who is the Commander of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. “Jones County Sheriff R.N. “Butch” Reece and his department was instrumental in assisting in this investigation and making sure that Harden was held accountable for his actions.”
This investigation is part of the ongoing effort by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, housed within the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, to identify those involved in the child pornography trade. The ICAC Program, created by the U. S. Department of Justice, was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.