Youth minister, 6 others arrested in multi-day child pornography sting in Floyd County
FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. - Six adults and one teenager have been arrested on multiple charges after an investigation into the production and distribution of child pornography in Floyd County.
Floyd County police say the two-day sweep, deemed Operation Spring Cleaning, targeted suspicious online activity discovered by the Georgia Department of Investigation connected to suspected child pornography in Rome, Cave Spring, and the surrounding area.
In their investigation, officials say they found graphic depictions of sex acts with children between the ages of 2 and 12 years old. The content allegedly was both made locally and was distributed online through social media, chat groups, and other messenger apps.
(Floyd County Police Department)
In one case, police say they rescued a child from the home of a youth minister, identified as Austin Wray Perkins, who was "coaching the child about how to act in videos and also engaging in acts of child molestation."
Police say the underage victim had no family and had been taken in by Perkins.
Austin Wray Perkins (Floyd County Police Department)
In total, police say they obtained 10 search warrants for digital devices and homes in the area.
The names of the six men arrested are below. Officers also arrested a 16-year-old suspect whose identity has not been released.
- Jackie Steve Autry, 65, of Rome was charged with sexual exploitation of children and possession of methamphetamine. He remains in jail without bond.
- Richard Castleman, 26, of Cave Spring was charged with computer pornography and released from jail on bond.
- Jason Gass, 27, of Rome was charged with computer pornography, possession of marijuana, THC oil, and drug-related objects. He has been released from jail on bond.
- Tyler Johnson, 22, of Rome was charged with computer pornography and released from jail on bond.
- Austin Wray Perkins, a 25-year-old youth minister from Rome was charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of children and aggravated child molestation. He remains in jail without bond.
- Joab Stewart, 24, of Rome was charged with sexual exploitation of children and was released from jail on bond.
Investigators say additional arrests are expected as the investigation continues this week.