Columbus police sergeant indicted on 4 charges of child pornography

Sgt. Dean Worthington, the former Columbus Police public information officer, was indicted on four counts of child pornography. (Franklin County Sheriff's Office)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - A Columbus police sergeant turned himself in to the Franklin County Jail on Wednesday after he was indicted on child pornography charges.

“This is disturbing conduct from a member of the division. One that is publicly out there representing all of us within the Division of Police,” said Sgt. Rich Weiner, who previously held the same job as the accused.

Dean Worthington, 51, had served as public information officer for about 10 months. Previously he was in CPD’s internal affairs bureau and had been in the department for 22 years. Worthington was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a child and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

“The public trusts us to investigate these types of crimes and now we have somebody within the division who violated that trust,” said Weiner.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said Worthington used his personal cellphone to upload an image of a naked boy to Tumblr, a social media site. According to O’Brien, Tumblr notified the Internet Crimes Against Children unit. Investigators said Worthington downloaded multiple videos and images depicting children engaging in sexual activity with adults. CPD is not involved in the criminal investigation.

“Devastated would be a word I would use. Disturbing. Because of the information that just came out from the indictment,” said Weiner.

“We have 1,900 sworn police officers. We do a lot of amazing, great things every single day. Unfortunately, this is a very serious charge and incident that happened.”

O’Brien said it does not appear that Worthington created any of the images and that none of the photos depicts children from Central Ohio.

“You have to depict either sexual contact, conduct or nudity where there is a graphic focus on the genitals, or suggestive poses,” said O’Brien about the felonies.

“They are a violation of law. And it is our job to enforce the law without fear or favor or without any favorable treatment to anyone,” said O’Brien.

The charges include two second-degree felonies that carry a maximum of eight years in prison each, and two fourth-degree felonies that carry as many as 18 months each. O’Brien said Worthington would have to register as a sex offender if he is convicted.

Worthington’s lawyer Dan Sabol said, “Mr. Worthington voluntarily turned himself in as soon as he learned charges had been filed. We will plead the case not guilty, conduct a thorough investigation, review the state’s evidence and proceed accordingly.”

Worthington was placed on leave July 17, after a search warrant was executed at his home. He was relieved from duty at the time and had to turn in his gun and badge. Weiner said there will be an internal affairs investigation.

Worthington is scheduled to be arraigned in Common Pleas Court on Friday.

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