By Jim Kouri
A 57-year old mayor of Taylorsville, Georgia (Bartow County), was arrested on Thursday by FBI agents and task force officers. The suspect had come to the attention of undercover officers posing as minors on the Internet.
Taylorsville Mayor Cary Rhodes is facing state charges of attempted aggravated child molestation and violation of the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Act. He allegedly attempted to meet with a minor child in order to have sex.
Unfortunately for Mayor Rhodes, he was met instead by FBI agents and task force officers of the FBI’s Northwest Georgia Safe Child Task Force. He was immediately arrested.
Following his arrest, Rhodes was transported to the Murray County Detention facility in Chatsworth, Georgia for processing.
Rhodes is a licensed engineer and is self-employed, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
He is also registered with the state as the secretary and chief financial officer for Taylorsville Baptist Church.
If convicted, besides a prison sentence and probation, Mayor Rhodes will be required to register as a sex offender whenever moving to a new neighborhood.
Today, the danger to children is even greater because the Internet provides predators anonymity. Whether the victimization occurs in person or over the Internet, the process is the same — the perpetrator uses information to target a child victim.
For example, the predator may initiate an online friendship with a young person, sharing hobbies and interests. This may lead to the exchange of gifts and pictures.
Just like the traditional predator who targets children in person, the online predator usually is willing to spend considerable time befriending and “grooming” a child. The predator wants to build the child’s trust, which will allow the predator to get what he or she ultimately wants from the child.
Child victimization on the Internet is a complex matter. The full impact of such victimization on children is not completely understood. Family dynamics often play a significant role in children’s denial of a crime and their willingness to participate in the investigation and prosecution, say experts.