I-TEAM: Moving day for McPherson, now a convicted sex offender
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The I-Team has an exclusive update about the Augusta child psychologist who is now a convicted sex offender following a months-long I-Team investigation.
Dr. Kenneth McPherson is no longer in the Richmond County jail. He is now inmate number 1003088848 with the Georgia Department of Corrections for the next five years.
According to the GDC website, McPherson is currently being housed at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. The facility in Jackson holds male felony offenders.
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McPherson didn’t even have a trial date when our I-Team started digging into more than a decade of court delays and now, we’ve uncovered something else to address: his actual address. In court earlier this month, both sides told the judge they agreed on a place McPherson can live when he gets out of prison. The I-Team did some checking, and it appears that the address could violate Georgia’s sex offender laws.
We first noticed the issue months ago when we first began working on this story and went by the home where McPherson has been living with his elderly parents on Augusta’s Ramsgate Road.
We saw multiple swing sets and playhouses. There were basketball goals and wagons.
Almost everywhere we looked, it seemed, we could see signs of children near the very house a judge ordered Kenneth McPherson to stay while out on bond for the last 10 years. Two grand juries had indicted him on seven felony counts of child molestation and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, but McPherson did not have to register as a sex offender.
That’s because he wasn’t a sex offender. Technically, he was still innocent, but neighbors talked and those with kids probably knew about his arrest.
Then came the delays. One year turned into more than a decade, so we started to comb property records. We found 429 property sales in the Brynwood neighborhood in the 10 years six months and 16 days McPherson remained free on bond.
A hundred and eighty-seven of those sales were homes just 1,000 feet from the McPherson home. Think of how many families with children could have been totally in the dark about McPherson’s dangerous allegations as the court allowed his case to drag on for years.
As the system failed the families connected to this case for more than a decade did it also fail the families moving in and out of Augusta’s Brynwood neighborhood?
It’s a fair question, considering after all this time, McPherson struck a plea deal earlier this month. Four of the six children, now young adults, connected to the case all pleaded with the judge for a harsher sentence. But, in the end, Judge John Flythe agreed to let McPherson serve only five years for just the sexual exploitation charge.
“I’m going to accept that,” Flythe explained in court. “I don’t take a great deal of pleasure in accepting it, but I’m doing that in the hopes of at least some finality in this matter.”
Flythe also told the court McPherson will have to register as a sex offender when he’s released from prison. He then listed that same address where the court-ordered McPherson to live while out on bond as where he will live as a sex offender. He confirmed that was the agreement between defense attorneys and the state.
The I-Team found that address could be a major problem. We didn’t just document signs of children along Ramsgate Road; we also noticed the McPherson property backs up to the Brynwood Swim Club.
The neighborhood swimming pool also has a playground and tennis courts. All appear to be within 1,000 feet of the McPherson home which would mean as a registered sex offender, McPherson couldn’t legally live there – could he? We first took that question to Augusta District Attorney Jared Williams. He would not give us an answer on the record.
Then, Sgt. Caleb Lee with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office sent us to pardon and paroles. Pardon and paroles sent us to the Georgia Department of Community Supervision and to the GBI who sent us back to Richmond County deputies, noting “proximity measurements are handled by the sheriff’s offices.”
The GBI did offer this: because the offense happened in 2011, we needed to look at the state statute from then when it comes to “proximity measurements.”
Georgia law uses “outer boundaries.” So, with that in mind, we used the measurement tool on Richmond County’s Geographic Information System website, or GIS. No matter how you slice it, even from the farthest points on the McPherson property, every measurement we got back came in well under 1,000 feet.
We’re still waiting on official confirmation, but for now, it appears McPherson might have to find another place to live when prison is no longer his home.
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