A 53-year-old ex-prosecutor in Oklahoma is facing multiple felonies after authorities say they found found more than 150 videos and images depicting the sexual abuse of children in his possession. Former Payne County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington was taken into custody last week and charged with one count of aggravated possession of child pornography and one count of violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act (OCCA), authorities announced.
According to a press release from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) on Sept. 1, 2022 forwarded 14 separate tips to the agency’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit, all of which pertained to a single suspect. Investigators looking into the matter soon identified Etherington as the possible suspect. At the time agents opened the investigation into Etherington, he was still serving as the first assistant district attorney for Payne County.
Agents with the OSBI ICAC unit on Nov. 28 obtained and executed a search warrant on Etherington’s home in Stillwater. He was taken into custody and transported to the Payne County Jail “based on the results of that search,” authorities said.
A sworn affidavit of probable cause obtained by Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR-TV, investigators recovered “at least 153 videos, screenshots, and photos of prepubescent girls being sexually abused and exploited” from an account alleged to belong to Etherington. The account’s IP address and the email address were both directly connected to Etherington, OSBI said.
Payne County District Attorney Laura Thomas issued a lengthy statement announcing Etherington’s arrest with “great personal outrage and devastation” and emphasizing that he had been terminated from the DA’s office after being employed as a prosecutor for Payne and Logan counties for eight years.
“Since called to prosecution nearly 38 years ago, much of my career has involved crimes against children and advocacy on their behalf,” DA Thomas said. “My offices have zealously prosecuted this crime and I, personally, find the manufacture, distribution and possession of child pornography to be both disgusting and incredibly damaging to individual victims and society. While the accused stands innocent of the alleged crime until proven guilty, my review of the investigation has resulted in this person’s dismissal from employment by my office.”
Thomas also said that it would “not be appropriate” for her office to prosecute Etherington’s case. She said she had initiated the process to recuse herself from the case and asked the state attorney general to assign the case to an outside DA’s office.
“Again, I cannot express how dismayed and disappointed I am about this development,” Thomas said in closing. “This office will not make further comments in this matter so as to not jeopardize prosecution by another District Attorney.”
A report from NonDoc showed that prior to being hired by the Payne County DA’s Office, Etherington was an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County. He was reportedly terminated in 2013 after it was revealed that he was married to a coworker in the office while simultaneously having an affair with another coworker in the same office.
[image via OSBI]
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