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NCSO catches alleged Web sex predator

COVINGTON - The Newton County Sheriff's Office has arrested a 33-year-old truck driver in connection with an Internet sting during which he allegedly sent pornographic material to a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, according to Investigator Sharron Stewart.

John Franklin Walker, 33, of 1106 Utopia Circle in Nashville, Ga., was arrested Thursday and charged with furnishing obscene material to a minor, violating the computer pornography and child exploitation act and sexual exploitation of children.

Stewart said Walker made contact with an undercover investigator through an Internet chat room during the last year. It wasn't until about a month ago that the pornographic material began arriving, she said.

NCSO investigators traveled to the south Georgia town where Walker lives with his wife Thursday to make the arrest and were assisted by the Berrien County Sheriff's Office.

Stewart said the suspect has no previous criminal history of sexual exploitation of children.

Warning parents of the dangers of unsupervised access to the Internet, Stewart urged that children's home computers not be put in a private or secluded area so that if inappropriate material is sent to them, the parents can intercept it. She also recommended that children should be warned of the dangers of chatting with strangers, as much of the appeal of the Internet to predators is that they can be anonymous.

"You can be who you want to be on the computer. Nobody has to know and you can change your physical description, even your sex," she said, adding that just because somebody sends a picture of themselves to someone, it doesn't mean that the picture is actually a photo of the person who sent it. "You can lie about anything and everything, and people usually do. The computer is a way to hide."

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.