Seven men from Bulloch, Screven, Bryan and Evans counties were among 39 arrested by Effingham County law enforcement during a 10-week online sex sting investigation — Operation Summer Heat — that ended last week.
One arrest was that of Portal Elementary School Principal Paul Hudson, 49, who has since resigned from that position. He reportedly left a back-to-school event in Portal to drive to Effingham County to meet with who he thought was an underage teen, said Effingham County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Joe Heath.
Also arrested in the massive sweep were Travis Butterbaugh, 31, of Claxton; Chadwick Boyd, 24, of Sylvania; Gregory Jackson, 48, of Newington; Johnathan Perkins, 25, of Ellabell; Joseph Williams, 31, of Statesboro; and Renato Ramos, 22, of Swainsboro.
“The Effingham Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Unit went hunting for individuals that would target our children for sexual exploitation,” Heath said in a released statement.
Working with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Effingham County officers took advantage of the summer break from school and had undercover agents pose as underage children online. When the suspects solicited sex from the undercover agents, believing them to be juveniles, and arranged to meet with them, they were arrested, Heath said.
“Some offenders had to be wrestled … some had to be chased, but in the end, all the offenders ended up in the Effingham County Jail,” he said. “This operation was designed to send a clear message from both Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie and Chatham County Sheriff Johnny Wilcher that individuals who target our children for their own purposes will not be tolerated in Effingham or Chatham County.”
Thirty-seven of those arrested are older than 18. Two are 17, and their photographs have not been released because they are considered minors, he said.
All offenders were charged with criminal attempt to commit a felony/child molestation, Health said.
Others arrested include:
Adam Alewine, 36, of Rincon
Johnathan Baker, 26, of Savannah
Odrae Barrett, 26, of Port Wentworth
Alexander Belanowich, 49, of Guyton
Deonte Brown, 21, of Port Wentworth
Christopher Carroll, 57, of Rock Hill, South Carolina
Trenton Carter, 42, of Bluffton, South Carolina
James Cheek, 35, of Hawkinsville
Willian Fischer, 24, of Pooler
Joseph Fountain, 37, of Savannah
Joshua Garner, 21, of Pooler
William Gobbs, 52, of Bloomingdale
Aaron Green, 26, of Guyton
Kevin Hollingsworth, 30, of Guyton
Thomas Hughes, 45, of Pooler
Sean Iwan, 21, of Rincon
Brian Jones, 35, of Evans
Andra Keye, 32, of Port Wentworth
Jacob Laport, 25, of Alto
Matthew Long, 30, of Hinesville
Randy Murphy, 29, of Savannah
Chad Nephew, 23, of Hinesville
Calvin Oliver, 39, of Garden City
Jonathan Purcell, 35, of Rincon
Rakeem Scott, 23, of Savannah
Robben Sims, 31, of Savannah
Douglas Smith, 33, of Seabrook, South Carolina
Matthew Wilkinson, 23, of Rincon
Henry Williams, 46, of Bloomingdale
Lloyd Wray, 41, of Hinesville
The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office is an affiliate member of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The GBI offers training and support to agencies across the state.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.