Sheriff convicted of posting confidential reports to resign

BRYAN, Ohio (AP) — A sheriff in Ohio who was convicted of posting confidential child abuse reports to the department’s website and Facebook page agreed to step down in exchange for avoiding an indictment on new felony charges.

Williams County Sheriff Steve Towns will resign March 17, according to Mark Weaver, a Columbus attorney acting as special prosecutor in the case, The Crescent-News reported.

Towns engaged in three potential felony counts of theft in office that were connected to his trial regarding the child abuse reports, Weaver said in a news release Wednesday.

A Bryan Municipal Court jury convicted Towns on Nov. 4 of improperly disclosing confidential information, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Weaver said a recent investigation determined that Towns had directed one of his deputies to attend and assist that hearing, as well as a county board of elections hearing Jan. 13. The deputy was paid for the hours, though there was no official government reason for him to be present, Weaver said.

Towns also submitted an invoice for the creation of a transcript concerning his appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, to be paid by taxpayers. The appeal was submitted Jan. 21.

Weaver said that he was prepared to charge Towns with the more serious charges, but that this agreement would save taxpayer money and resources.

Towns said last year that he had been frustrated with the handling of child abuse investigations in the county, so he posted the documents to let the public know what was happening.

Towns did not return requests for comment from the newspaper Wednesday.