Towns Case Upheld

The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upheld the 2019 misdemeanor ethics violation conviction of former Williams County Sheriff, Steve Towns…for posting confidential information on child welfare cases on the sheriff’s department official website. The charges against Towns stemmed from his October 2018 online release of documents related to child abuse cases his office had been investigating. Towns posted more than 600 pages of investigative reports related to the cases. The redacted document release also contained information on several other cases involving the Bryan City School district and the Williams County Department of Jobs & Family Services…specifically JFS child protective services. The confidential information was eventually removed from public view. Williams County brought in a Special Prosecutor, Mark Weaver, a Columbus-based attorney, for the 2019 trial. Towns was found guilty of a first degree misdemeanor, fined $500, and given a suspended 180-day sentence and three years of community control. The Toledo-based Sixth District Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the conviction, leading to the appeal.

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