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Columbus Police Sergeant Indicted On Child Pornography Charges

Raymond Wambsgans

A Franklin County grand jury has indicted Columbus Police public information officer Sgt. Dean Worthington on four counts of child pornography.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien filed the four felony indictments Wednesday and issued a warrant for his arrest. 

O’Brien says Worthington uploaded and downloaded lewd material on the website Tumblr. The blogging site alerted law enforcement authorities, including the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children task force. 

As part of the investigation, deputies seized Worthington’s personal cell phone.

“A number of images were found,” O’Brien says. “In my estimation, at least prohibited images, 25 or less.”

Worthington was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon.

"As we do in all these cases, we asked the clerk of court to issue an arrest warrant for Sgt. Worthington, and he surrendered on that warrant around noon today at the Franklin County jail, I understand," O'Brien says.

Worthington, 51, faces two second degree felonies, which could carry sentences as long as eight years. He also faces two fourth degree felonies which have a maximum sentence of 18 months each. O’Brien says the arraignment could happen as soon Friday.

Columbus Police spokesperson Denise Alex-Bouzounis says the division will pursue its own internal investigation once Worthington’s case concludes.

"We'll look at it from the very beginning of, 'Is this a simple discipline case?'" she says. "I think we would all agree that it does not appear to be, but he has due process and it could be a termination case."

Worthington was relieved of duty on July 17, handing in his badge and gun.

Worthington took on the role of public information officer in September 2017.

This story will be updated as more information develops.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.
Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.