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Online sting leads to indictment

Evans man faces attempted enticement of a minor charge

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An Evans man has been indicted by a federal grand jury amid allegations he tried to arrange a sexual encounter with a girl he believed to be 14 years old.

Ernest Harvey Shepherd, 58, was indicted this week on charges of attempted online enticement of a minor.

Parents of a 16-year-old alerted investigators in May of "questionable online communications" on Facebook between Shepherd and their daughter.

According to a criminal complaint filed May 26 in U.S. District Court, Shepherd met the minor through his work as an official at local swim meets and began communicating with her in January.

Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Mark Dobbins recognized the flattery used in Facebook comments by Shepherd as "grooming" -- a method sexual predators use to gain a child's trust to develop a sexual relationship, according to the complaint.

Investigators began an undercover operation by posing online as a 14-year-old girl who had a history of prior sexual interactions with older men.

Online communication began May 12 and immediately became sexual in nature. Within two hours of their online introduction, Shepherd asked permission to sext, or engage in an online sex chat.

Less than a week later, Shepherd admitted to having kissed a 13- to 14-year-old a couple of years ago.

By May 16, he began expressing his immediate desire to see the girl in person, but shared his concern about them being seen together, according to the court document.

Later, he suggested "skinny dipping and lunch" and offered to bring wine coolers when they met.

At one point he sent a message that read: "I am a terrible person, preying on young girls like u. a dirty old man. I hv corrupted u!"

On May 24, he messaged his intentions to take the girl to eat Mexican food and then to a specific room at an Econo Lodge.

Federal charges were brought against Shepherd on May 27. Authorities would not release specific details on the location of his arrest or where he is currently incarcerated.

Investigators are asking parents to speak with their children to see whether they have had any contact with Shepherd.

"If (parents) have received any inappropriate communication or if this guy is giving a child more attention than normal, do not handle this in-house. Contact law enforcement," Dobbins said.

The undercover operation was a joint investigation conducted by sheriff offices in Richmond and Columbia counties, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Comments (15) Add comment
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charliemanson
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charliemanson 06/10/11 - 06:52 am
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Why do the majority of these

Why do the majority of these perps who troll for underage girls are Columbia County residents?

Riverman1
167185
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Riverman1 06/10/11 - 07:00 am
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It's actually that we just

It's actually that we just catch more of them since our police have more time and are not overwhelmed with violent crime.

nerthus
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nerthus 06/10/11 - 07:37 am
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maybe Columbia County have

maybe Columbia County have more perverts

Riverman1
167185
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Riverman1 06/10/11 - 07:44 am
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Nerthus said, "maybe Columbia

Nerthus said, "maybe Columbia County have more perverts"

That's funny in a way you never intended. LOL

noneyabiz
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noneyabiz 06/10/11 - 08:57 am
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This guy has been approaching

This guy has been approaching Col Co girls for awhile. I know this for a FACT. Feel sorry for the rest of his family.

chadwick323i
52
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chadwick323i 06/10/11 - 10:01 am
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Riverman1, you better hope

Riverman1, you better hope countyman doesn't read your first comment ;)

lonelywife
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lonelywife 06/10/11 - 10:28 am
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Where is this guy a swim

Where is this guy a swim official? Anyone know what he looks like? My daughter swims and I want more info................

anun
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anun 06/10/11 - 11:13 am
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First, he is not a swim

First, he is not a swim official anymore, obviously. Second, does it matter where he lives? Just feel for his family...

lonelywife
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lonelywife 06/10/11 - 11:45 am
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Um, I didn't ask where he

Um, I didn't ask where he lived. I simply want to know if my daughter has had any contact with him. If your daughter had quite possibly had interactions with a known pervert, wouldn't you want to know? Or maybe you are one of those people that bury their heads in the sand and pretend that everything is alright with their world. And, of course I feel for his family.

realitycheck09
312
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realitycheck09 06/10/11 - 12:04 pm
0
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Chris Hansen strikes

Chris Hansen strikes again!!!!

noneyabiz
0
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noneyabiz 06/10/11 - 12:57 pm
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he was a high school

he was a high school swimming official-- Im SURE not anymore since he is evidently in prison. mid 50s gray hair. lonely-- why dont you ask her? the girl I know that got a message on FB ( your picture is pretty or something of that nature) immediately told her parents. but thats not illegal. However, they all knew immediately to never speak to this man again.

lonelywife
0
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lonelywife 06/10/11 - 02:59 pm
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Thank You "noneyabiz" and

Thank You "noneyabiz" and "coolchic" for clearing that up. My daughter swims on a team within the CSRA Swim League, so we don't need to have a conversation about it at all. The article I read just said "swim official" which is a pretty broad description. Glad to know he wasn't involved in the CSRA Swim League.

coolchic
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coolchic 06/10/11 - 03:19 pm
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I'm not certain if he

I'm not certain if he officiated in any manner with CSRA Swim League, but if he did in the past, he certainly would no longer have any involvement. The CSRA Swim League Board is a group of parent volunteers who are extremely involved in the local swim community. I can assure you that they are on top of the current situation.

haley118
4
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haley118 06/13/11 - 12:35 pm
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I've grown up with his oldest

I've grown up with his oldest daughter throughout middle school, and i absolutely HATE this for his family. Prayers for the Shepherds!

Right on
246
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Right on 06/13/11 - 06:37 pm
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He has had a history which

He has had a history which has shown in some of his previous work places. Very sick man.

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