GARDENDALE — The sheriff of Effingham County, Georgia is looking for a Gardendale man on charges that he transmitted sexually explicit photos of himself via the Internet to an investigator posing as a teenager.
Mark Butler, 28, is accused of exposing himself on a webcam to an underecover deputy posing as a 13-year-old girl.
According to Det. David Ehsanipoor, the public information officer for the sheriff's office, Butler was caught in an undecover operation by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is comprised of multiple law-enforcement and investigative agencies in that state which try to catch sexual predators in cyberspace. Effingham County has two officers which work with that task forse.
The incidents took place over the past couple of weeks, Ehsanipoor said. The chat-room conversation turned sexual in nature.
Deputies were able to get a photo of Butler's face, but had no idea who he was or where he was from. The department sent out a press release with his photo, which ended up on the websites of numerous news agencies in the Southeast. An identity and location were determined shortly thereafter from the public.
Butler's wife, Megan, is the head volleyball coach at Mortimer Jordan High School; she also coached girls basketball for the Blue Devils for the last two seasons. According to the Effingham County Sheriff's Office, Megan Butler is cooperating with investigators in Alabama. (Overnight reports from the department erroneously stated that she had fled along with her husband.) Mark Butler does not have any official capacity with Mortimer Jordan, according to principal Barbara Snider.
Ehsanipoor said they believe that Mark Butler is going to turn himself into authorities in Springfield, Ga., just north of Savannah, within the next day. If not, Ehsanipoor said they will enlist the aid of the U.S. Marshal's Service in bringing him in. Mark Butler is white, 7 feet tall and weighs about 250 pounds.
Ehsanipoor added that federal charges may come into play, since the incident took place in separate states and would therefore qualify as interstate crime.
Anyone with knowledge of Mark Butler's whereabouts should call the Effingham County Sheriff in Springfield, Ga. at 912-429-9874, or call the Gardendale Police Department.
This story continues to develop; we'll have updates throughout the day.