ATLANTA — A federal jury convicted a former Bibb County sheriff’s deputy Wednesday of a charge that he tried to entice a child for sex.
Gregory Todd Bowden, 43, of Byron is scheduled to be sentenced March 16, said Franklin J. Hogue, his lawyer. Bowden faces up to 20 years in prison.
Bowden made arrangements in an online chat room to meet who he thought was a mother and her 7-year-old daughter in Sandy Springs for sex in 2009. In truth, he was chatting with an undercover FBI agent assigned to the Innocent Images Task Force.
Bowden took the stand Wednesday morning as the sole defense witness.
He testified that he started visiting online chat rooms about sex four to five years ago.
He was soft-spoken as he described how he was drawn to taboo sexual subjects.
“I’m very ashamed of myself. I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed of what I’ve put my family through,” he said. “I know now that I was wrong.”
When Bowden drove to Sandy Springs, he said he thought the woman he’d been talking to was planning on engaging in role-play sex with him, acting both as an adult and as a 7-year-old girl.
Bowden admitted that it could have sounded as if he was talking about a real child in the recorded telephone conversations he had with the FBI agent. But he explained he was furthering the role playing started online, and he thought the woman was doing the same.
“We were trying to make it as realistic as possible for when we met,” he said. “The more realistic it is, the better it is.”
But if he’d arrived and found that the girl was real, he said he hopes he would have called 911 and waited until authorities arrived, but it’s possible he would have driven away.
He testified that he would not have had sex with the girl.
While being interviewed by the prosecution, Bowden denied knowing that child pornography was on his computer.
“I’ve seen the evidence, but I don’t know where it came from,” he said.
Elizabeth Concepcion, the undercover FBI agent, testified Tuesday that the FBI found 307 images of suspected child pornography on his computer.
A file containing multiple images was last accessed Feb. 10, the day before he drove to Sandy Springs and was arrested, FBI agent David Freyman testified.
Bowden said he didn’t download the file.
Concepcion testified Tuesday that she was monitoring a chat room in October 2008 when Bowden sent her a message. Trying to catch individuals exploiting children, she portrayed a 30-year-old woman named Tiff with a 7-year-old daughter.
Jurors followed along on electronic monitors as prosecutor Robert McBurney and Concepcion read portions of sexually explicit chats and e-mails. They also viewed photos exchanged by the FBI agent and Bowden.
The chat room conversation began with Bowden asking if Concepcion’s online identity, Tiff, would join an online role-playing relationship with Bowden and another person, Concepcion testified.
She replied, saying that she was only interested in real-world activity. Over several chats, the conversation evolved to Bowden’s planning to meet Tiff and her daughter in Sandy Springs for sex, she said.
In chats and phone conversations, Bowden discussed how the girl would handle the situation, “good touch, bad touch” lessons taught in schools and assurances that the girl wouldn’t talk about the sexual encounter.
FBI agents arrested Bowden when he arrived at a J. Christopher’s restaurant in Sandy Springs on Feb. 11 to meet Tiff.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.