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Dawsonville man arrested in child porn sting
Child porn sting Benson MUG
Benson

A Dawsonville man was among 18 arrested in a statewide child pornography sting by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The bureau's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit worked with the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and numerous law enforcement agencies across the state in the three-month investigation.

Earl Taft Benson, 68, a contract worker who lives on Columbine Glade, was booked into the Dawson County Detention Center just after 6 p.m. Oct. 14.

The Dawson County Sheriff's Office assisted GBI with the local investigation and Benson's apprehension.

"[GBI] told us there was a house in Dawson County they had identified through an IP address that had downloaded some files of interest," said sheriff's Sgt. Jeremy Thompson.

GBI said those arrested in Operation Secret Guardian are being charged with the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007.

Benson's specific charges are two counts of felony sexual exploitation of children.

Investigators also took computer hardware from the residence for further forensic evaluation, Thompson said.

Agents conducted 24 search warrants in 16 counties on Wednesday looking for evidence and distribution of child pornography using the Internet.

Law enforcement seized 232 digital devices as evidence in the cases and examined another 69 digital units.

Additional arrests may occur after the analyzation of confiscated digital devices.

GBI Special Agent in Charge Debbie Garner applauded the hard work of the taskforce.

"The investigators who work child exploitation cases are some of the most dedicated law enforcement officers there are, despite the psychological toll this type of investigation exacts on them," she said.

The Georgia ICAC Task Force is comprised of more than 200 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, other related criminal justice agencies and prosecutors.

The mission of the ICAC Task Force, created by the U. S. Department of Justice and managed and operated by the GBI in Georgia, is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases.

The support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention and community education.

The ICAC Program 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.