Retired South Georgia Teacher Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Porn

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A retired South Georgia school teacher pleaded guilty to possessing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) after authorities located hidden cameras inside his rental property’s bathroom filming young children bathing and undressing.

David Swanson, 61, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography before U.S. District Judge Louis Sands on Feb. 22. Swanson faces a maximum of 20 years in prison to be followed by a maximum lifetime of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Swanson will have to register as a sex offender upon release from prison. Swanson is not eligible for parole.

“Crimes against children are despicable, and it’s unthinkable when teachers or other trusted people are guilty of harming kids,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Our office prosecutes child predators to the fullest extent of the law. I am thankful for the excellent investigative work by our local and federal law enforcement partners that helped stop a child predator.”

According to court documents, a concerned citizen notified Ray City Police in March 2023 that she found a hidden camera in the home she rented from Swanson. The responding officer located a camera hidden in the bathroom’s ceiling plugged into an extension cord that ran through the attic. The officer also found two more cameras hidden in electrical outlets in the same bathroom. The SD cards from the cameras contained images of four children between the ages of one and 12-years-old taking baths, changing clothes and using the toilet. There was also a video clip of Swanson stepping on the toilet, reaching towards the ceiling and then placing a small black object in his pocket. All of the images were recorded between Jan. 21, 2023, and Feb. 28, 2023.

Authorities checked Swanson’s other rental properties in Lowndes County and Berrien County and did not find additional cameras at the other residences. A search warrant was executed at Swanson’s Valdosta home on March 3, 2023. Agents found approximately 750 images and videos of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and other incriminating evidence on his electronic devices. Some of the material included children nude in bathrooms, as well as minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The cameras were still set to record when they were found and removed from the home. This includes the CSAM that was downloaded as well as the CSAM images that he produced through the use of the hidden cameras. Swanson had recently retired as a teacher in the Lowndes County School System.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Ray City Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals is prosecuting the case.