A Cobb County man has been handed a 100-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to molesting a child for more than a decade.
A judge called Lee Gordon Smith, 55, of Acworth, “a predator of the most dangerous kind” before sentencing him Nov. 20 on multiple counts of child molestation, aggravated child molestation and possession of child pornography, according to Cobb County District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes.
Holmes said officials investigating Smith found several alleged victims and more than 700,000 images and videos of child pornography.
Cobb police Detective Jonathan McFarland, who led the investigation, said the case was one of the worst he had ever seen.
The investigation started in February 2017 after a victim came forward with details about abuse that started more than a decade ago, Holmes said. The victim was 4 years old when it began, she said.
The statute of limitations in the case was due to expire within two weeks of police first hearing about it.
“Detectives with Cobb Police Department’s Special Victims Unit worked around the clock to ensure the case could be prosecuted,” Holmes said.
Investigators identified a “number of other victims, but the window to pursue their cases had passed,” she said.
Police executed search warrants on multiple locations and seized Smith’s digital media and equipment, Holmes said.
“After searching only a few of the many hard drives collected, police identified more than 700,000 images and videos of child pornography,” she said. “The devices also contained pictures and videos of the sexual abuse of known victims that the defendant himself had recorded.”
Smith was arrested Feb. 26, 2017, and booked into the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, where he has remained. At the time of his arrest, he was charged with 75 counts of sexual exploitation of children, 15 of which he ultimately pleaded guilty to.
He agreed to a non-negotiated plea deal and was ordered to serve 40 years in custody and the remaining time on probation, Holmes said.
Asia Simone Burns is a watchdog reporter for the AJC. Burns was formerly an intern in AJC’s newsroom and now writes about crime. She is a graduate of Samford University and has previously reported for NPR and WABE, Atlanta’s NPR member station.