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Jailer fired after pornography arrest

POSTED: May 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
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Blake E. Farr

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The Hall County Sheriff’s Office has fired a jailer after his arrest on a child pornography charge.

Sgt. Blake E. Farr, 32, of the Chicopee community, was arrested Friday following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. Farr was a front-line supervisor at the Hall County Jail and a member of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard until he was terminated Friday.

A personal computer authorities took from Farr’s house during a warranted search contained child pornography, according to investigators. GBI officials say Farr may have been sharing photos with others in a "peer-to-peer" online file-sharing network, and he has been charged with one felony count of possession of child pornography.

Farr came under investigation by the GBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force when a Forsyth County investigator on the task force and another GBI agent separately discovered Farr was sharing pornographic images of minors online, said John Bankhead, public information officer for the GBI.

Investigators on the task force found Farr as they were browsing specific file-sharing networks for people who are sharing known child porn images, Bankhead said.

"What (the investigators do), they look at this peer-to-peer sharing where people share files; it’s very to similar to what Napster was where people shared music, but in this case people use that same type of system to share child porn," Bankhead said. "That’s what led them to suspect (Farr) being involved in child porn."

On Thursday, the GBI searched Farr’s home with the help of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, and took his computer. Bankhead said pornographic images of children were found on Farr’s computer, but he did not know how much or what kind.

"They’re still looking at it, but they discovered enough to file charges," Bankhead said.

Farr, who had worked at the Hall County Jail for four years, was fired Friday as a result of his arrest.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Jeff Strickland said Farr’s arrest is disappointing, and that prior to Friday’s arrest, the Sheriff’s Office had no problems with him. In fact, Farr, a trained deputy sheriff, was promoted to sergeant six or seven months ago, Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said. The status was in its probationary period, and had Farr performed to the Sheriff’s Office’s standards for the position, the promotion would have been made permanent in the next few months, Cronic said.

"Anytime any of our officers are involved in any type of criminal activity it’s always disappointing," Strickland said.

Strickland said the Sheriff’s Office has no reason to believe Farr looked at child pornography while he was at work at the Hall County Jail. The county’s computer systems block employees from viewing pornographic Web sites, and if Farr had tried to access one it would have raised a "red flag" with the department, Strickland said.

"We do not believe that there have been any improprieties on Hall County-owned computers," Strickland said.

The GBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has made several hundred arrests over the past year, but Bankhead said it is not often that law enforcement officials come under fire.

"It happens, unfortunately," Bankhead said. "While it’s rare, one case is one case too many when you’re dealing with a law enforcement official."

But Bankhead said pedophilia crimes are committed by all kinds of seemingly trustworthy people.

"We’ve arrested teachers, people that work with children or young people, and we’ve arrested professionals — lawyers — so it runs the whole spectrum as far as individuals involved in this type of activity," Bankhead said.

The incident is still under investigation by the GBI and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.



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