COLUMBUS, Ohio—On Thursday, Ohio’s WBNS-10TV Meteorologist Mike Davis was charged with child pornography. According to legal court documents, Davis was arrested and charged with ‘pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor,’ a second-degree felony.
Davis, 60, has been a meteorologist in Central Ohio since 1987, for a period of 31 years. At the time of Davis’ arrest, he was still listed on the WBNS website.
LIVE: The Franklin County Sheriff's Office speaks on the arrest of 10TV meteorologist Mike Davis over a child porn pandering charge. https://nbc4i.co/2NSVMem
Posted by NBC4 on Thursday, September 5, 2019
Federal Child Pornography Law
Under federal law, it is a criminal offense to knowingly possess, manufacture, distribute, or access with intent to view, child pornography.
Under the statute, child pornography is defined as a “visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor.” The statute mandates a minimum of five years imprisonment for receipt of child pornography, while Congress recently significantly increased the maximum prison sentence for child pornography crimes.
Ohio’s Child Pornography Law
Under Ohio law, it is a crime to “pander obscenity involving a minor” under Ohio Revised Code 2907.321 (O.R.C.); “to pander sexually oriented matter involving a minor” under O.R.C. 2907.322; or “to use a minor in a nudity-oriented material or performance” under O.R.C. 2907.323. These offenses can range from 5th degree to 2nd degree felonies, with maximum sentences ranging from 1 to 8 years imprisonment. The degree is dependent upon whether the offender’s involvement was limited to mere possession of the material.
Per court documents, on or about August 5, 2019, Davis knowingly advertised for sale, or sold, distributed, disseminated or displayed a pornographic image involving a young girl (minor) engaged in sexual activity.
On Thursday morning, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on Davis’ home in Upper Arlington. The arrest itself was made by a detective from the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), a federal anti-crime initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. It is a collaboration of city, county, state and federal law enforcement authorities across Ohio whose mission is to identify, arrest and prosecute individuals who:
(1) use the Internet to lure minors into illicit sexual relationships; or
(2) use the Internet to produce, distribute or solicit child pornography.
The ICAC received a tip that Davis had sent and received a “significant” amount of child pornography. Upon arrival at Davis’ residence, electronic devices were seized by using IP addresses obtained through the investigation related to where images were possibly downloaded or sent to others, including, but not limited to his phone, computers, laptops, and tablets.
According to Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin, the number of images involved in the case is “significant.” WBNS reported that a laptop used by Davis along with four flash drives were taken curing the search at the CBS station, yielding thousands of photos dating back several years.
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.”
Friday’s Initial Arraignment
On Friday morning, Davis appeared in open-court with his attorney, Terry Sherman, posting a $50,000 bond. Sherman told CNN that his client was planning to receive counseling and they are “working to try to right some of the things that have happened in this case.”
Conditions for Davis’ bond include:
- No unsupervised contact with minors
- No internet access, including through a smartphone; and
- He not leave Franklin County and he surrender his passport
“These are sensitive cases and obviously when we see somebody of this stature in the community who is as well-known as Mike is, we treat these carefully – we know the impact it’s going to have in the community. That people are shocked. But it’s a reminder that these types of cases span across all professions,” Chief Deputy Minerd said in Thursday’s briefing.
He added, “We’ve arrested clergyman, we’ve arrested cops, folks in the media we’ve arrested everybody. I think it’s a reminder to the community of how dangerous the internet is and how we need to protect our children.”
According to Minerd, these cases almost never involve just one image, but rather multiple. “We do take accidental downloads into account,” he explained. “It’s about a pattern.”
Davis is scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning at 9 a.m. in Franklin County Municipal Court. NBC4 announced that it will be at the hearing live with updates. Grit Daily will be following this story as NBC4 releases updates.