Federal charges for Douglas County principal in child sex sting

by: Marcus K. Garner Updated:

John McGill, former principal of Mt. Carmel Elementary School in Douglas County, is led away in handcuffs following his first appearance hearing at DeKalb County Magistrate Court for a felony offense of electronic pornography and attempting to have sex with a minor on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Decatur. (Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / CURTIS.COMPTON@AJC.COM)

The Douglas County elementary school principal arrested in a child sex sting in DeKalb County in March has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

John Harold McGill is being charged in federal court on allegations that he attempted to arrange sex with a 13-year-old via the Internet and text messages, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

"The defendant … using a means of interstate commerce, knowingly attempted to persuade, induce, and entice an individual who had not attained the age of 18 years to engage in sexual activity," the federal indictment reads.

McGill was one of 14 people arrested in an undercover investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit.

Each person was charged with violating the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007, a felony.

Prosecutors said McGill responded to a Craigslist "casual encounters" ad on March 1 that purported to be from a mother looking for someone to offer her "young teen daughter some … fatherly attention."

After exchanging emails and texting with a police officer pretending to be the mother, prosecutors said McGill agreed to drive from his Villa Rica home to Lithonia for a sexual rendezvous with the daughter.

He was arrested when he arrived, and police said he was carrying condoms.

McGill's attorney Mac Pilgrim was not immediately available this morning. After his client's probable cause hearing in March, he said no illegal contact was ever made with a child.

"My client never touched a child," Pilgrim said at the time. "My client never communicated with a child."

McGill, who was released on $50,000 bond after his arrest, was ordered to stay away from minors and not have unsupervised contact with his three stepchildren, ages 9, 14 and 17.

The Douglas County School Board suspended McGill pending the results of the investigation.