COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A day after a prominent Columbus businessman pleaded guilty in federal court to a child pornography charge, WRBL is talking exclusively with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about the case.

Brian Johnston is the GBI Special Agent in charge of the unit that investigated and arrested Edward Sprouse Boyd Sr. 

“Words cannot describe how horrific these images are,” Johnston told WRBL. “These are essentially crime scenes in progress. This is a child being raped and a child being sexually abused, and it is being recorded either by photograph or video. So, they’re horrific.”

Boyd appeared in front of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land Tuesday and admitted to possessing thousands of child pornography images and videos. 

Boyd was arrested in 2020 after the GBI was tipped off that he may be in possession of many child pornographic images. 

Boyd, who at the time of his arrest was an executive in the family business — Goldens’ Foundry and Machine Company. 

Here’s how Johnston says the GBI caught Boyd with the illegal images and videos.

“When these companies observe or find child exploitation material on their infrastructures, they are required by law to report that to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Johnston said. “And that’s exactly what happened in this case.” 

These more than 17,000 images and videos were found in the GBI search of Boyd’s home. The GBI confiscated 18 electronic devices. The bulk of the graphic material was found on Boyd’s personal cell phone that was pass-code locked and he told agents he was the exclusive user.

The GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit regularly investigates these types of crimes.

“It is a lot,” Johnston said of the material found. “Is it the most we’ve ever seen? No, it’s not, unfortunately.”

Johnston said the crime against the child does not stop when the material is found on a single phone or one computer. 

“These images — they never go away,” he said. “They’re traded by people. They’re contraband images, but they’re traded by people. Every time that the images are emailed to someone or dropped into a file-sharing service or something of that nature, you’re revictimizing that child. And the damage that it’s done to those kids is just horrific. It cannot be described.” 

Boyd’s case started as a state case in Superior Court. Recently, it was moved into the federal system. The feds used the investigation by the GBI to get the plea deal with Boyd.

 “We work very closely with all of our federal prosecutors and all of the districts here in Georgia, and there’s really no rhyme or reason to it,” Johnston said. “Because the crime can be prosecuted in either jurisdiction. So, sometimes it’s a matter of the sheer quantity of the child sexual abuse, material, images, and sometimes other factors are involved in that. But it is not unusual for a case to go to federal court.” 

Judge Land set the sentencing for Boyd on January 23rd. Boyd is currently out on bond. He is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 dollar fine.