Westerville News & Public Opinion

Deputy posts bail on child pornography charges


A Franklin County sheriff's deputy and Westerville resident was arrested last week and accused of downloading and distributing child pornography via the Internet

According to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Justin D. Iddings, 30, of 232 Allview Road, was arrested March 27 for pandering sexual oriented material involving a minor, a second-degree felony, and pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, a fourth-degree felony, after members of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a search warrant at his home.

Iddings is a corrections officer at the county jail and has been employed by the sheriff's office since 2008, The Columbus Dispatch reported. He was arrested upon reporting to work March 27 and placed on unpaid administrative leave, the Dispatch reported.

He was arraigned in Franklin County Municipal Court March 28, posted an $85 surety bond and was released. He has a preliminary hearing set for Friday, April 4.

"Numerous" computers and computer equipment were seized along with several firearms, though Franklin County Chief Deputy Rick Minerd said there is no reason to believe Iddings was participating in something larger than an isolated incident or actually had any physical contact with the children.

"There's no reason to believe that there was any hands-on victims or any known parties," Minerd said. "They were images that were -- for the most part in that world -- known to others.

"Even in the adult porn industry, there are certain videos that common folk are familiar with," Minerd said. "It's very similar in the child porn realm. There are known videos, known images out there that we're all aware of, and to my knowledge all he had were those kinds of images."

Minerd said he also didn't expect that Iddings was involved with others locally or in person.

"For the most part, these situations are isolated," he said. "It's not common for us to see some club that meets every Thursday to exchange these things."

Iddings's Internet activities were tracked, and it was determined that the child pornography on his computer could not have been anything other than intentional, and the sheriff's office acted quickly.

"There's a difference between accidentally downloading an image and repeatedly downloading and trading, and things of that nature," Minerd said. "As soon as we learn of this and it's one of our own, we didn't want to hold off. We want to treat this delicately, but at same time we wanted to be aggressive."

It's not easy to deal with one of your own involved in a case like this, Minerd said. But it speaks to the nature of these kinds of crimes.

"Certainly it shakes everybody," he said. "But it really points to the fact that this is one of those crimes not exclusive to any geographical area or economic area or anything like that. We've arrested clergymen, doctors, counselors, teachers, coaches. It just goes to show nobody is really exempt from this. Unfortunately in this case we got a law enforcement officer."

Minerd said it could be weeks until the forensic team can investigate all of the seized computers.