The Douglas County elementary school principal caught in a child sex sting allegedly drove from his home to a house in Lithonia hoping to teach a 13-year-old girl “how to be with a man,” a detective testified Thursday.
John Harold McGill took notes intently as a member of the Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force told a judge about what McGill said via email and text.
“I said that I had a young daughter and I explained to him that I was looking for someone to teach her how to be with a man,” said Alpharetta Police Detective Laurie Nicholson, who is part of the task force and told a DeKalb County Magistrate Court judge she was posing online as a mother during the sting.
“We started talking about sex, and he asked what she knew. He said to be a good teacher he had to know what she needed to learn.”
McGill was one of 14 people ensnared by on-line ads that led them to a DeKalb County home allegedly with the purpose of having sex with a minor.
Each person was charged with violating the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention act of 2007, a felony.
Nicholson placed an ad on the Craig’s list “casual encounters” section posing as a mother seeking someone who could give her “young teen daughter some … fatherly attention.”
She said McGill responded to the ad on the evening of March 1, and they exchanged several emails including a message telling him the age of the fictitious teen was 13, and a photo purporting to show mother and daughter (an undercover GBI agent) together with the girl’s face obscured.
She said he suggested that he was familiar with teaching.
“I asked him had he taught anyone before,” Nicholson said. “His exact words were, ‘I have been a teacher for many years … I’m a very patient person.’”
Nicholson said McGill agreed to meet that evening.
Then the conversation moved to text messaging.
That’s when GBI analysts with the task force used McGill’s cell phone number to find out who he was.
Continuing to play the role of the protective mother, Nicholson said told him that the encounter was intended only for her daughter.
“He advised that he would start with oral and said he wanted her to wear some sexy panties,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson, playing the mother, told McGill that she didn’t have any condoms and asked if he would be bringing one.
When McGill arrived at the home and rang the doorbell, detectives opened the door and arrested him, she said.
“He had a condom in his possession,” she said.
McGill was released on $50,000 bond roughly two weeks ago on the stipulation that he not make contact with minors and not have unsupervised contact with his three stepchildren ages 17,14, and 9.
His attorney, Mac Pilgrim argued during the hearing that though a message was sent describing a girl’s age, it very well could have been a type-o.
Pilgrim pointed to a mix-up Nicholson acknowledged in her testimony in which McGill initially was sent the wrong address to the home where he was to meet.
“I found it very ironic that they said that, ‘no it couldn’t have been a type-o,’” he said referring to the age of the girl. “But yet, they mentioned later on in the hearing that they inverted two numbers with regards to the address.”
And the attorney found issue with the fact that the photo McGill received was actually of two adult women, rather than the mother and daughter Nicholson claims the images were described as.
“There were no children in those photographs,” Pilgrim said. “My client never received an image of a child. My client never touched a child. My client never communicated with a child.”
DeKalb County Magistrate Court Judge Richard Foxworth said there was sufficient evidence for the case to move forward.
McGill was suspended as principal of Mt. Carmel Elementary School pending the investigation
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