Mt. Carmel Elementary School principal John McGill is escorted by police from a DeKalb County Magistrate Courtroom Tuesday. McGill is accused of using the Internet to arrange to have sex with a minor as part of a GBI sting.

Douglas principal charged with attempted child sex released on $50,000 bond

The Douglas County elementary school principal caught in a child sex sting has been released from the DeKalb County Jail.

John Harold McGill posted $50,000 bond and was released from jail early Wednesday.

Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, according to an arrest warrant obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, McGill “responded to an ad on craigslist.org in reference to a mother who was seeking someone for her teenage daughter.”

The warrant says McGill made contact with the undercover officer posing online as the mother both via email and phone, and told her “he has taught other girls and he would go slow.”

McGill was one of 14 people arrested as part of a Georgia Bureau of Investigations sting designed to ensnare child predators.

Each of the men were arrested and jailed in DeKalb County on the felony charge of violating the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007, GBI officials said.

Among those arrested were Benjamin Hopson, 21, a grocery store worker from Lithonia, and Choon Hong David Tan, a 52-year-old engineer from Johns Creek.

McGill’s wife on Tuesday sat stone-faced in the rear of the courtroom during her husband’s first appearance. “She’s shell-shocked. She’s embarrassed,” said Mac Pilgrim, McGill’s attorney. “But she’s standing behind him.”

Pilgrim challenged the veracity of the allegations made against his client, saying that McGill would plead not guilty. “There’s no mention of the (girl’s) age in that warrant,” Pilgrim said. “The warrant said ‘teenage daughter.’ That could mean 16 or 18. The evidence is different than the warrant.”

In addition to paying the bond, McGill also was ordered to stay off the Internet and stay away from non-related minors.

As for his three stepchildren with whom he lives — ages 17, 14 and 9 — Pilgrim said McGill would either live with one of his three adult children who live just west of the state line in Alabama, if prosecutors allow, or his wife’s children would move out of the house pending a change to the bond conditions.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for McGill at 9 a.m. March 17.

McGill was suspended as principal of Mt. Carmel Elementary School pending the investigation. At a school board meeting Monday night, Sandra Williams was named interim principal. Williams is a retired Douglas County administrator who served as principal of the school from 2002 to 2007.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.