Former midstate teacher charged in child pornography case

A former Upson County substitute teacher has been charged with possession of child pornography, according to the GBI.

Dawn Deborah Brantley, 44, of Meadow Drive in Thomaston, was arrested Wednesday afternoon following a search at her home, said John Bankhead, GBI spokesman.

A preliminary search uncovered 65 pornographic images and five movie files. GBI agents discovered the images of suspected or known child pornography through observing the images being shared using Brantley’s computer’s IP address, Bankhead said.

“The computer was seized and they will analyze it forensically to determine how many images were on there,” he said.

Bankhead said he didn’t know if the images depicted girls or boys.

While serving the search warrant for the child pornography, authorities discovered a small amount of methamphetamine and methamphetamine smoking devices at Brantley’s home, he said.

Upson County deputies charged Brantley with a violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, according to a news release.

Brantley was released from the Upson County jail on $15,000 bond Thursday morning, according to the Upson County Sheriff’s Office.

A message left at her home was not returned Thursday.

Brantley’s three children, between ages 12 and 17, were not at home when authorities served the search warrant, Bankhead said.

The Upson County Department of Family and Children Services took custody of the teenagers Wednesday, according to the release.

Bankhead said none of the pornographic images involved Brantley’s children.

“There’s nothing we’ve found that indicates (the photos were taken) by anyone in the home,” he said.

Mike Gatlin, assistant superintendent of the Thomaston-Upson County School System, said Brantley sporadically worked as a substitute teacher in the school system between 2001 and April 2009.

She was unemployed at the time of her arrest, but also had worked as a licensed nurse, according to the release.

Bankhead said the GBI’s investigation is continuing and additional arrests are possible.

Brantley was arrested through activities of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that works to identify people involved in the child pornography trade. The task force was created by the U.S. Department of Justice in response to an increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, a boost in child pornography and heightened online activity by people searching for unsupervised contact with children, according to the release.

Between January and July of this year, the task force has made 112 arrests. The task force made 164 arrests in 2009 and 109 arrests in 2008.

Bankhead said less than 5 percent of the people arrested were women.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.