FORMER COLUMBUS POLICE OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY TO SEXUAL COERCION OF MINORS
THURSDAY, JANUARY 17, 2013
Public Affairs Officer
COLUMBUS –Todd L. Smith, 50, of Columbus pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to one count of coercion and enticement of minors for sexual activity.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the plea entered today before U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
“Today’s guilty plea underscores that inappropriate contact with minors using texts and the internet are federal crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Stewart. “Smith’s job as a police officer charged with safeguarding children highlights the seriousness of this offense.”
According to a statement read during the hearing, the FBI began investigating Smith on July 2, 2012. The investigation found that Smith, a Columbus Police officer, who was assigned as a resource officer at a local high school was having an illicit relationship with a 15-year old female. He told the student that he had a sex addiction and that she could help him by having sex with him. Between July 24, 2012 and the morning hours of July 25, 2012, Smith exchanged approximately 113 text messages with an undercover FBI agent posing as the victim.
On July 27, 2012, the FBI became aware of another 15-year old victim who had been coerced through similar text messages into having a sexual relationship with Smith. The FBI found that this relationship began in early 2012 and that they exchanged more than 6,000 text messages during the course of the relationship.
FBI agents arrested Smith on July 26, 2012 and he has been in custody since his arrest. Coercion and enticement of minors is punishable by at least ten years and up to life in prison. Judge Marbley will determine the sentence and schedule a hearing following a pre-sentence investigation by the court.
“Police officers are the guardians of our community and to whom our children should be able to turn for safety,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Hanko. “The actions of one officer should not negatively reflect on the good work of other officers. This investigation highlights the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, and Columbus Police Department to ensure those who sully their positions as police officers are held accountable.”
Stewart commended the FBI agents conducting the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Doug Squires and Michael Hunter, who are prosecuting the case.