COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus Division of Police Sgt. Dean Worthington faces four felony child pornography charges, according to Franklin County court records.
Worthington, 51, has been charged with three counts of pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor (two fourth-degree felony counts and one second-degree felony count) and one count of illegal use of minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, a second-degree felony.
According to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, Worthington allegedly was downloading child pornography to his personal phone.
“Between January and July of 2018, it is alleged that Worthington uploaded an image to Tumblr and downloaded multiple videos and images depicting young children engaging in sexual activity with adults,” O’Brien said in a press release.
O’Brien said Tumblr provided a tip to law enforcement after Worthington allegedly uploaded an image of child pornography.
Worthington surrendered himself at the Franklin County jail shortly after the charges were announced. He is expected to make his first court appearance on the charges Friday afternoon.
Police spokesman Sgt. Rich Weiner said the criminal charges against Worthington are damaging to the police image. “The public entrusts us to protect them from this type of crime and right now this disturbing conduct erodes that trust,” Weiner said.
Worthington, the division’s public information officer, was relieved of his assignment last week and turned in his badge and gun last Tuesday.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant last Tuesday; the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was involved in the search.
Sgt. Worthington had been on the force for 20 years before being promoted to PIO for the division in 2017.
He was promoted to Sergeant in 2006 and worked for a time in internal affairs.