According to a press release from Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds, psychologist Jonathan Benjamin Gersh, 38, of Atlanta, pleaded guilty to six counts of child molestation and four counts of sexual exploitation of children. Cobb County Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster sentenced Gersh to 40 years, with 20 years to serve in prison and 20 on probation, under sex offender conditions.
The acts in the indictment all occurred in Marietta in 2017, although the child’s family said the molestation took place from the time the child was in kindergarten until third grade, and included taking and sharing photographs of her on the internet.
Australian authorities discovered photographs taken by Gersh on the internet and alerted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and federal agents and the Cobb County Police Department used the I.P. address provided to trace the photos to Gersh, at the time a licensed psychologist treating both children and adults in the metro area.
The incidents in the indictment occurred while Gersh was dating the child’s mother. The mother, also a psychologist, testified that Gersh was a “selfish, perverted, manipulative sociopath,” who began dating her in order to gain access to her child. She said that Gersh does not have the ability to be reformed, and urged a severe prison sentence for Gersh.
The child’s father also spoke to the court.
Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring, who prosecuted the case along with ADA Ashton Murphy, said in the press release, “He is an opportunist. He is a child molester. And, he’s an exploiter of children in the worst way. This man knows the very impact this crime has on children, and he chose to do this to a child he allegedly loved.”
Judge Schuster said, “We have a person preying on a child who looked up to him as a father, who saw him as a protector. These pictures are not baseball cards to be traded. This is pure and simple sex trafficking.”
Gersh’s defense attorney, Richard Grossman of Atlanta, said in court, “Aside from this conduct, he’s led an exemplary life.”