Former Columbus officer pleads guilty in child porn case

Dean P. Worthington, who resigned from the division last month, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

A former Columbus police sergeant could be sentenced to as long as 19 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to child pornography charges, but the judge in the case said he will consider probation.

Dean P. Worthington, who resigned from the Police Division last month, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to three counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Judge Mark Serrott scheduled sentencing for Jan. 10.

He told Worthington to bring money to the sentencing hearing in anticipation of a fine, and that any prison time imposed would begin that day.

“I’m not saying I’m going to send you to jail; I’m just saying to come prepared,” Serrott said.

The judge noted that Worthington has no prior record. “To this point, you’ve lived a pretty good life,” Serrott said.

Whether Worthington goes to prison or not, he will be required to register as a sex offender every six months for 25 years.

Worthington, 52, spoke only when asked to enter the plea and whether he understood his rights as he stood beside his defense attorney, Dan Sabol. He will remain free on bond while awaiting sentencing.

At the time of his indictment in July, Worthington was acting as police spokesman, making him one of the faces of the division. The 22-year veteran resigned three months later under “dishonorable status” but remains eligible for his state pension.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Rausch said local investigators received a tip in May from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about a child-pornography image that had been uploaded to Tumblr, a social-media site, through a blog that belonged to Worthington. In July, investigators obtained Worthington’s personal cellphone, which contained the uploaded image and other images and videos depicting child pornography, she said.

Various electronic devices were seized during a search of Worthington’s Hilliard home, she told the judge, but all of the images were on his phone.

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said at the time of the indictment that there was no indication that Worthington had created any of the images or that any of the images depict children from central Ohio.

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