Men between the ages of 27 and 71 came to Tallapoosa to have sex with children, officials said.
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Warning: Parts of this story might be too graphic for some readers.
Men allegedly wanted to replace sexting for sex
TALLAPOOSA, Ga. – Tallapoosa Police spearheaded a month-long investigation and ultimately nabbed eight men for their involvement in what they are calling an underage sex sting—so far, four have been arrested, ranging in age between 27 and 71.
But none of them are from the small town—population 3,000. In fact, they all drove, on average, 20 miles to Haralson County, Ga., to meet up with underage teenagers, proposing sexual acts.
Last weekend, police arrested Randy Keith Barnette, of Carrollton, Ga., Everett William Gleichauf, of Rockmart, Ga., Brandon Henry Short, of Cedartown, Ga., and Jerry Paul Caldwell, of Villa Rica, Ga., on Aug. 20, after an undercover officer caught them in the act of asking for sex from, who they believed to be, teenagers.
After another sting was a success about a year ago, at a local motel with the GBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, and Haralson County Sheriff’s Office, Tallapoosa Police Chief Scott Worthy said that he decided to put efforts of a scaled-down caliber into his own force of 12 officers.
“We’re dedicated to not only upholding the law here in town, but trying to protect the youth of our community and other communities around us,” Worthy said.
In fact, he had one of his patrol officers trained as an affiliate member of the GBI’s ICAC task force, to talk to these would-be criminals online, posing as an underage girl.
“It’s not like meeting somebody face to face where you might judge an age. Just because you think you’re talking to a 14-year-old girl… It might not be who you’re talking to.”
Beginning at the start of August, he started his work in the sting—working some hours on his own time.
But the chief said it’s not just about rounding up these guys, it’s about getting the word out that Tallapoosa is not the playground for their underage games.
“It’s not just about locking them up and charging them – it’s against the law and wrong to be mixing with children.”
“If we can get them off our roads and out of here then it’s just better off,” he said.
Tuesday, Aug. 1
The undercover officer posts on the Atlanta Craigslist site and dangles the bait—posing as a 14-year-old boy.
Thursday, Aug. 10
Caldwell, 27, contacts who he believes is a 14-year-old boy. The undercover officer tells him multiple times that he is, in fact, 14-years-old.
They text back and forth for several days—Caldwell indicates his sexual intentions for the “boy.”
"Do you like sex?"
Friday, Aug. 18
The undercover officer creates a new post on the Atlanta Craigslist site—this time, posing as a girl.
According to the incident report, within 20 minutes, Barnette, 49, sends a text message to who he believes to be a 14-year-old girl.
Saturday, Aug. 19
“OK, I don’t want to scare u. Do u like to be licked?” Barnette asks.
Caldwell chimes in.
“I’m just scared this is a set up just cause I want sex.”
“I’m not a bully just scared and don’t want to go to jail for thinking you are sexy.”
Barnette reveals to the undercover officer that he is looking for a “freak” and details what he would like to do with “her,” including several sexual acts. Then, he asks what “she” would like to do.
The undercover officer receives a text from Short, who tells “her” that he is 17-year-old. (He’s 32 and is told several times that he’s talking to a 14-year-old girl.)
“I will wear a condom.”
“Do u like sex?” Short asks the “girl.”
Throughout the conversation, he asks “her” for a photo of her vagina 13 times.
The officer receives another text message. This time, from 71-year-old Gleichauf, who also thinks he is chatting with a teenager. In fact, the officer tells him that he's a 14-year-old girl five separate times in their text message exchange.
Caldwell asks the “boy” to show him his penis.
Caldwell agrees to meet the “boy” in Tallapoosa, telling him that he will be driving a Dodge Ram. He sends a photo of his face via text so that the teen will recognize him.
“So, have you had sex at all?” Gleichauf asks the “girl.”
They continue talking via text for the next six hours.
“And if you did its fine you wouldn’t be the first 14 yr old that had sex.” [sic]
The elderly man reveals to “her” what he’s done with other underage girls in the past.
“We don’t have intercourse just a lot of foreplay and oral…. See where it all leads… oral is awesome.”
Gleichauf asks multiple times how big “her” breasts are. He also tells “her” he could teach her anything she wants.
After chatting off and on for 10 hours, he agrees that tonight is a good time to meet up at a Waffle House in Tallapoosa. He sends “her” a photo of him and his car so that “she” will know who he is once he arrives from Rockmart—nearly 30 miles and 45 minutes away.
Sunday, Aug. 20
Police approach Caldwell’s vehicle and ask, “Is that you Paul?” to which he guns it past them, until he’s stopped by other marked patrol cars.
He tells them that he thought he was meeting with a 20-year-old man.
During a post-arrest search, officers find his wedding band in his front right jean’s pocket. It was not on his hand during the arrest.
Before Gleichauf arrives, they agree to change locations to the Piggly Wiggly.
About 12 hours after initially contacting and talking to, who he thinks was a 14-year-old girl, police approach his dark blue Kia Optima and have him step out of the car.
While he admits that he is there to meet a 14-year-old "girl," he tells police he would never have done anything to a child.
“I am totally embarrassed, ashamed and was very un-Christian like,” Gleifchauf says to police during an interview with them.
Gleichauf and Caldwell are charged with sexual exploitation of a child, electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor and distributing obscene material.
Barnette meets with the person whom he believes to be a 14-year-old girl, at a nearby gas station.
Upon arriving, the officer sends a text message to Barnette, asking if he was “the white guy with tattoos in the parking lot?” To which he responds, “Yep.”
He is sitting in a white Chevrolet pick-up truck.
The officer quickly approaches the truck and asks Barnette to exit the vehicle. He readily admits that he's there to meet with a 14-year-old "girl," but argues that he was just messing with them like they were messing with him, and that it was all just a joke.
Barnette is arrested at the gas station and charged with sexual exploitation of a child, electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor, distributing obscene material and possession of firearm during commission of or attempt to commit certain crimes—all felonies.
Jason Swindle, an attorney for Barnette, later releases a statement saying, " Mr Barnette did go to the gas station. However, he never intended making contact with this girl. In fact, it was the police officer who contacted him. There are other details that will support my client's position that he lacked any intent to have sex with an underage girl and that he knew he was chatting with a police officer. As the case unfolds, both sides of this story will reveal what actually happened regarding Mr. Barnette."
Short tells the undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old: “And u better not tell nobody please OK.”
Look baby I going to come **** u LOL I no you want a big **** LOL.” [sic]
After a nearly 24-hour conversation via text, Short wants to meet with the “girl.” They decide to meet up at the gas station. He tells “her” he’s driving a white Ford F-15 and texts her, “I am here,” upon his arrival.
The police stop Short and he tells them he thought the whole thing was a prank and that he never thought that a child would show up. Furthermore, he tells them that he has never talked to a little girl like that before in his life and felt like he needed his butt “whooped.”
Short is charged with sexual exploitation of a child, electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor, distributing obscene material, distribution of material depicting nudity or sexual conduct and child molestation.
If convicted, Worthy said they could face up to 20 years per charge against them—a minimum of five years for each felony charge.