• Ga. loophole leaves no solution for victim of pornographic political sabotage

    By: Mark Winne


    DECATUR, Ga. - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it has found two loopholes in a Georgia law.

    One loophole helps child predators and another leaves Georgians open to horribly embarrassing computer attacks.

    The GBI told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne it's looking for a solution.

    One of the victims of the loopholes was attorney Maria Sheffield. She told Winne she became a victim of pornographic political sabotage.

    "It was horrifying, maybe even more so as a female, to be so degraded that way, for my family to see that sort of thing," Sheffield said.

    Sheffield said while running in a congressional primary last year, someone she doesn't know made up a horribly obscene digital flier using her photo and distributed it through social media.

    "It's hurting my credibility. It's hurting my opportunity to secure votes and ultimately win an election," Sheffield said.

    Sheffield said she lost the election and then heard from another candidate that something similar happened to him in a runoff.

    Inspector Sherry Lang with the GBI said she investigated Sheffield's situation long enough to discover state law didn't cover it.

    "The loophole is that currently the law relates to the distribution of pornography or nudity through the mail and it doesn't address electronic," Lang said.

    Lang said the bureau will ask the legislature to change the law to make it illegal to email or post on Facebook, for instance, obscene material that is already illegal to send through the mail.

    "To the extent that this legislation is targeted toward obscenity and not written too widely, it may be OK," said Hollie Manheimer of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

    She said she will look closely at the legislation to make sure it doesn't violate the constitution.

    "The GBI traditionally has been very respectful of free-speech rights," Manheimer said.

    Lang said the GBI is proposing another bill that would make it easier for undercover agents to target predators seeking sex with children through a parent or guardian.

    "The unfortunate part is there are parents or guardians out there who will allow their child or take their child somewhere to have sex," Lang said.

    Lang said the second loophole came to light when an Alabama investigator called looking for the GBI to help with a Georgia-based suspect encountered in an undercover operation. But the GBI couldn't help because what was banned under Alabama and federal law was not banned under Georgia law.


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