3 plead guilty in Project Safe Childhood Investigations in Southwest Ga.

Three men entered guilty pleas in federal court Thursday resulting from three separate Project...
Three men entered guilty pleas in federal court Thursday resulting from three separate Project Safe Childhood investigations centered in Southwest Georgia, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia.(Gray News)
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Three men entered guilty pleas in federal court Thursday resulting from three separate Project Safe Childhood investigations centered in Southwest Georgia, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia.

Larry Dewayne Goldsmith, 23, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. He faces a minimum of 10 years up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment to be followed by at least five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Jawara Kitt, 29, of Albany, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child sexual abuse material and faces a minimum of five years up to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment to be followed by at least five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Kitt admitted in his plea agreement to distributing child sexual abuse material online and through social media depicting children under 12, including infants and toddlers, being raped and sexually assaulted by adults.

Kitt’s activities were discovered in September 2021 as part of an active FBI investigation into the production and distribution of child sexual abuse material online.

An undercover FBI agent was contacted by Kitt through Kik and Kitt inquired if the undercover agent was an “active dad” or a person who has access to a child.

Police also said Kitt distributed child sexual abuse material to the undercover agent.

Kitt’s Albany home was searched in January 2022, where agents found he distributed videos depicting child sexual abuse material 144 times in three weeks, between Oct. 19 - Nov. 8, 2021. Kitt was taken into federal custody on April 14, 2022.

Walter Kenneth Rathel, 56, of Donalsonville, also pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child sexual abuse material and faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment to be followed by at least five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

According to court records, Rathel was discovered to be in possession of child sexual abuse material during the course of an ongoing investigation targeting child predators by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in April 2021.

A special agent with HSI was monitoring a certain account on Kik and saw an individual post a MEGA link to numerous files of child pornography that was owned by Rathel.

Agents obtained a federal search warrant and conducted a search of his Donalsonville home in July 2021, finding 49 images and 139 videos of child sexual abuse material on two of his devices, as well as child sexual abuse materials on his Amazon account.

All three will have to register as sex offenders upon release from federal prison.

Sentencings are expected to occur within 90 days.

These cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.