COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Columbus police officer summoned to his home by a father concerned that his 11-year-old daughter was being solicited by an adult man repeatedly said the girl could face charges for sending explicit sexual images. ‘herself.
Body camera footage obtained by The Associated Press showed the Sept. 15 interaction between the father and two police officers. The father closed the door angrily after one of the officers told him his daughter could be charged with making or recording images of child sexual abuse while she was the victim.
The parent posted a now-viral security video of the conversation to TikTok that sparked widespread criticism of the officer’s response.
The officers’ conduct is under investigation, as well as any crimes that may have been committed against the girl, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said in a statement Tuesday. She also said the ministry had asked to apologize to the father.
Police have not released the father’s name, and the AP is not identifying the alleged victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the AP.
Security video and audio from redacted body camera footage show the officers talking with the father outside his home after midnight.
He told police his daughter was already sleeping and he hoped they could help talk to her about the seriousness of the situation. The police officer quickly told her that her daughter could be charged with creating sexually explicit content.
The father protests and claims that this is a child who was manipulated by an adult, according to the police report and the father’s TikTok video. The policeman asks her if she was taking photos and the father ends the conversation.
In the audio from the body camera footage, the officer can be heard saying again as she walks away from the house: “She’s taking naked pictures of herself. She’s creating child pornography.”
In a preliminary incident report, the officer lists the possible charge under investigation as “proximity of sexual material involving a minor” for the creation or production of material, and cites part of Ohio law that prohibits the creation, recording or publication of child sexual abuse. materials. A separate part of the law that was not cited prohibits knowingly soliciting, receiving, purchasing or possessing this material.
In a statement Tuesday, the police chief repeatedly referred to the 11-year-old as the victim of a crime. She said the officers’ conduct fell short of her expectations that officers “treat every victim of crime with compassion, decency and dignity.”
The AP also obtained audio of the father’s call to police and a dispatch log containing notes from responding officers.
According to the dispatch log, the father called 911 around 6:50 p.m. on September 14 and was told they would send a female police officer. He called back around 7:50 p.m. to say the response was taking too long. Police showed up at the family’s home more than five hours later, after midnight on September 15.
Video footage shows the father informing officers his daughter is sleeping and saying he wasn’t sure what they could do.
The police report identifies the officers as Kelsie Schneider and Brian Weiner. A number listed for Schneider went straight to voicemail. Weiner answered a call but asked a reporter not to contact him.
Officers’ notes in the logbook and incident report accuse the father of ending the conversation before they could discuss possible outcomes, saying he was “immediately upset.”
Despite the police chief’s statement referring to the child as a victim, Columbus police did not respond to questions about whether she could still face charges.
A police spokesperson also did not respond whether any other children had been charged in Columbus under Ohio laws regarding child sexual abuse images. It was unclear whether the department had a policy regarding charging juveniles with these crimes.
Police said the officers’ actions have been referred to the Inspector General’s office and are under review.
One of the responding officers wrote in the incident report that she contacted detectives from the sexual assault unit, citing “the seriousness of the crime and lack of cooperation” and was advised to “write a miscellaneous incident report”. It is unclear why an officer from the sexual assault section or child exploitation division did not respond to the call and why the response was so late.
CBS Columbus affiliate WBNS-TV quotes Columbus Fraternal Order of Police Chief Sgt. Brian Steel, saying officers must be held accountable and will be held accountable if an investigation finds they acted inappropriately.
“If the officer violated the policy, then he or she will be disciplined accordingly. It’s that simple,” Steel said. “We can talk about her empathy, her callousness. Those are all things we can discuss. But again, did she violate any policy, yes or no. If she did, she will be held responsible.”
The head of the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Sgt. Mike Weiner stressed to WBNS that parents who suspect their child has been the victim of an online predator should not be afraid to report it to the police and do so as soon as possible.
“They should make that call every time,” Weiner said. “Whatever we investigate, that would be our goal, to find the offender and hold them accountable.”