COLUMBUS (WCMH) — WBNS Chief Meteorologist Mike Davis was booked into the Franklin County Jail Thursday morning, charged with pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.
Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said in a 2 p.m. news conference that two weeks ago, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force received a tip that Davis had sent and received a “significant” amount of child pornography.
“This establishes a pattern of behavior. One week ago that information was confirmed and more evidence was gathered,” Baldwin explained.
NBC4 has confirmed with multiple sources that this investigation involves “thousands of images.”
ICAC executed search warrants Thursday morning to multiple locations, including Davis’ home and the WBNS 10TV studios. Davis was arrested at his Upper Arlington home Thursday morning by ICAC detectives.
“These are kids that are clearly being exploited for sexual appetite,” chief deputy Rick Minerd said.
Minerd, who supervises the investigations division that oversees ICAC, said they seized cell phones and computers — “standard stuff” they take in a child porn investigation.
“There’s no question that it was him versus someone else living in that home?” NBC4’s Ted Hart asked Minerd.
“Yes,” he confirmed.
Officials said more charges may be coming as they continue the investigation, and that they will work with the prosecutor’s office to figure out what charges will be levied and what Davis will be indicted on.
Court documents allege on August 5, Davis knowingly advertised for sale or dissemination, sell, distribute, transport, an image of a young girl participating or engaging in sexual activity.
“It’s a reminder that these kinds of cases span across all professions, we’ve arrested clergymen, we’ve arrested cops, folks from the media – we’ve arrested everybody,” Minerd said. “It’s a reminder for the community how dangerous the internet is, and how we need to protect our children.”
The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is a federal anti-crime initiative. Their website provides information to help keep you, your family and your friends safe from the dangers of Internet child sexual exploitation, and a direct link to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children where you can immediately report suspected online child sexual exploitation.
As of 2:30pm Thursday, Davis’ bio was still listed on the WBNS website. He has been a meteorologist in Central Ohio since 1987.
WBNS issued the following statement to NBC4:
At around 10 a.m. this morning, we learned that Mike Davis was arrested by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. We are currently learning more about the details and we will be reporting more about the story. We have no further comment at this time.WBNS General Manager John Cardenas
The report on the WBNS website says the station first learned of the charges when he was arrested Thursday morning. NBC4 contacted WBNS’ parent company TEGNA for a statement as well.
Davis was booked into the Franklin County Jail pending an arraignment in Franklin County Municipal Court Friday morning.
During that Friday morning hearing, Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Eileen Paley issued a $25,000 cash surety bond and a $25,000 cash recognizance bond, after initially making each $50,000.
Keep checking NBC4i.com for real-time updates on this story.