4-H camp director arrested on child pornography charge
The longtime director of Camp Wahsega 4-H Center is facing child pornography-related charges following an extensive investigation that began with an anonymous cyber tip last month, according to officials at the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office.
On Thursday, Paul Travis Williams, 48, turned himself in to the Lumpkin County Detention Center after he was allegedly found to be in possession of explicit electronic files featuring children.
“There was a search warrant served at this residence [at Camp Wahsega] for child pornography,” said Lt. Alan Roach of the LCSO. “And during the search, multiple electronic devices were seized with these specific types of images.”
The investigation began in mid-September with police officers from University of Georgia and grew to include the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and LCSO.
Investigators said they could not comment on the origins of the pornographic images at this point.
“The evidence is still coming together for us,” said Sheriff Stacy Jarrard of the LCSO.
Williams’ arrest is likely to send shockwaves throughout the community and the state as the Lumpkin County camp is one of five 4-H centers operated by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and a popular summer destination for many.
Williams is also a prominent member of the community as he served as a board member of the University of North Georgia’s Wesley Foundation and as a chair of the Georgia Parent Teacher Association. He was also the chairman of the Lumpkin County Republican Party until 2015. During his tenure he wrote a counterpoint column for The Dahlonega Nugget.
Williams has been employed at the 4-H center for a total of 17 years.
When contacted by The Nugget, State 4-H Director Arch Smith said that employment has ended.
“Only thing I can tell you is that he no longer works for us,” he said. “We don’t want to make any comment because we don’t want to interfere with [the investigation.]”
Meanwhile, defense lawyer Catherine Scott Bernard said Williams categorically denies the charges against him.
“He’s just crushed and bewildered by all this,” she said in the Lumpkin County magistrate courtroom Thursday afternoon. “And he’s looking forward to clearing his name.”
After a short hearing, Judge Diane Beatty granted Williams' release on a $10,000 bond. He was granted permission to reside at his mother’s house in Hawkinsville in Pulaski County.
“He was residing at a home owned by UGA and the Wahsega Center at the time these charges were made,” said Bernard. “…He has lost his job and his place of living.”
Williams was ordered to stay off Camp Wahsega property and is not allowed to have any unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 years of age. His committal hearing is scheduled for November 16 at the Lumpkin County Justice Center. Bernard said her client is looking forward to it.
“Travis has nothing to hide, and he is confident that a thorough investigation will show that he is innocent of any wrongdoing,” she said.
Williams is currently facing a single felony charge of possession of child pornography. Multiple charges could follow, said Jarrard.
“It’s just a terrible day for this community,” he said.
For updates on this developing story check back in to www.thedahloneganugget.com.