Picked up as part of an initiative to stop internet child predators, a Resaca man pleaded guilty Tuesday to several charges and was sentenced to 10 years, with 5 served in prison.

Craig Henry Kirby was arrested in February 2018 on criminal attempt to commit aggravated child molestation as well as obscene internet contact with a child. Kirby traveled from his home to have sex with a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl, Assistant District Attorney Mary Beth Gregoire said.

He was arrested by Floyd County police detectives who have partnered with other agencies across the state and southeast to capture child predators.

For instance, in May 2019, Operation Southern Impact III targeted child predators, specifically ones who sexually exploit children with the use of technology. The team arrested a total of 82 people. In that same multi-state operation, 17 children were rescued or identified as victims.

This was the case in Kirby’s arrest, Gregoire said. Floyd County police created an online profile and Kirby initiated the contact. He sent numerous explicit messages and then went to meet her — picking up a Mountain Dew that his quarry had requested as well as condoms.

He was met by police and arrested. He initially denied coming to meet the person he’d been exchanging messages with and he changed his story several times, Gregoire said.

Kirby, who had no previous criminal record, will have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.

Several other men were arrested in the same sting from early 2018 that netted Kirby.

Police arrested Jeffrey Ryan Lance — a former Floyd County Schools employee — when he attempted to meet a person he believed to be a 14-year-old for sex. He took a negotiated plea of 10 years, to serve 5 in prison, on sexual exploitation of a child charges.

Stephen Rand McGatha, of Cedartown, pleaded guilty to criminal intent to commit child molestation as well as sexual exploitation of children charges. He was sentenced to 10 years, to serve 5 in prison, for traveling to Floyd County in order to seduce a child.

David Louis Lay, of Silver Creek, was also arrested in March 2019. He pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of children and was sentenced to 15 years, to serve 5 in prison, in May 2019.

Multiple people have been arrested in similar sting operations locally and have already been sentenced.

A jury found Rodney Steven Corbin guilty of criminal attempt to commit aggravated child molestation, sexual exploitation of children and obscene internet contact with a child in a December 2017 incident. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison with an additional 13 years on probation.

In January and February 2018, Kelly Brian Cordell contacted a person who he believed to be a minor, sending explicit texts and photos of himself. When he went to meet with that person — with the phone he’d used for the communication in his pocket — he found the police. After initially denying the phone was his, he pleaded guilty to counts of obscene internet contact with a child and was sentenced to 20 years, to serve 5 in prison.

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