The Georgia Bureau of Investigation began investigating 61-year-old Elton Felix Manzione after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a tip that Mr. Manzione was involved with child pornography, according to Fred Stephens, special agent in charge of the GBI's Athens field office.
Agents searched Mr. Manzione's Newton Bridge Road home Jan. 12 and seized a computer that held 10 child porn images, according to the GBI's arrest warrant.
In one image, a young girl was bound, gagged and sexually assaulted with an object, the warrant said, and another image showed an adult's penis touching an infant's mouth.
Mr. Manzione, who surrendered at the Clarke County Jail, was charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of children and released on a $2,000 bond.
His attorney, David Crow, would not confirm that Mr. Manzione had images of children in his computer. He said, however, that his client is accused of victimless crimes.
"It's a dangerous path for law enforcement to tread down when they start charging people with a crime because they possess images," Mr. Crowe said. "They haven't hurt anyone or done anything to anyone. I'd better lock my offices and bolt my doors, because we probably all looked at images or have images in our possession that could lead to our arrest."
Nikki Nathan, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Center of Northeast Georgia, bristled at the notion that possessing child pornography is a victimless crime.
"Somebody had to be victimized in order for someone to photograph those pictures," she said. "Someone is doing something to those kids, so they are being sexually abused."
Each count of sexual exploitation of children is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Mr. Crowe asked that Mr. Manzione be released on his own recognizance on all charges, writing to an Athens-Clarke County Magistrate Court judge that his client "has been a resident of Athens for most, if not all, of his adult life. He is married and ... has been a journalist and academic for most of his life."
Mr. Manzione wrote for The Observer, a defunct Athens weekly newspaper, and is listed on the University of Georgia's Web site as a part-time English instructor. The English department said Tuesday that he no longer works there.