A Cherokee County man who worked as chief deputy in the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office was arrested Tuesday by Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents on charges of distributing child pornography.

According to a statement from GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles:

The GBI began investigating 56-year-old Grady Sanford of Canton following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that images depicting child sex abuse were uploaded on Nov. 6 to the internet and investigation indicated the uploads originated from Sanford’s home.

Sanford was arrested after GBI agents executed a search warrant at his home. He was booked into the Cherokee County jail on two counts of distribution of child pornography and later released on $5,600 bond.

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman immediately fired Sanford when he learned of the arrest.

“To say this is a shock is a gross understatement,” Freeman said in a statement. “We intentionally set our standards high at Forsyth County. Regardless of rank, every employee must meet those moral and legal standards.”

“This investigation is part of the ongoing effort by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, housed within the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, to identify those involved in the child pornography trade,” Miles said.

According to his public LinkedIn profile, Sanford has worked in law enforcement since 1984 with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office, Fairmount police, and nearly 30 years with the Georgia State Patrol, rising to the rank of captain and commanding GSP operations in northwest Georgia. He has also served as a part-time instructor at Reinhardt University for almost four years.

Wednesday afternoon, Reinhardt issued a statement that Sanford last taught at the school in April and will not be used as an instructor in the future.

Sanford is prohibited from any contact with Reinhardt faculty, staff or students and from visiting any Reinhardt University campus property for any reason, university officials said in a statement.

“Like others in our community, Reinhardt is shocked by the news of Mr. Sanford’s arrest and alleged conduct. Without hesitation, we have terminated Mr. Sanford’s status with the university,” said Interim President Mark A. Roberts.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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