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Monday, May 28, 2012
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State: 3 foster children removed from home of Knox Commissioner Jeff Ownby
KNOXVILLE, TENN. -- Three foster children have been removed from the home of Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby and further admissions of children to the home have been suspended, a state department spokeswoman said Friday.
Molly Sudderth, director of communications at the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, said the department through the Florence Crittenton Agency had three children in the Ownby home at the time of his arrest Thursday afternoon on an indecent exposure charge.
On Friday morning, they were taken from the Ownby home and put in another home, according to Sudderth. No more admissions are being allowed there, she said.
Return of the children depends on what happens to Ownby's court case.
Defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs represents Ownby, 45, on the charge. He said his client would be seeking counseling.
"Commissioner Ownby intends to enter a plea of not guilty to the allegation. We are requesting that everyone respect Commissioner Ownby's and his family's privacy regarding this matter," Isaacs said.
The attorney said his client would have no further comment about the arrest. He declined to comment about his client's status as a foster parent.
Ownby is expected to be arraigned next month.
The 4th District Republican first-term commissioner and John McCracken, 53, were arrested Thursday afternoon after police spotted them having oral sex in Sharps Ridge Park in North Knoxville, court records show. Officers made the arrest just after 4:30 p.m., according to an arrest warrant.
"The defendant was observed with another male engaging in oral sex with one another," KPD Officer David Munson wrote in the warrant.
"The defendant did not attempt to hide any of his actions from the public."
Ownby was released from the Knox County Detention Facility later Thursday night after posting $500 bond on the misdemeanor. He did not respond when asked by a reporter if he wanted to comment.
McCracken is charged with indecent exposure and criminal trespass, also a misdemeanor. His bond was set at $1,000, according to warrants.
Sharps Ridge has a reputation as a place where men go to meet other men. KPD's sting was conducted in response to citizen complaints of illegal activity.
Ownby is a married father of two. He has no other arrests. He was elected to represent the West Knoxville district in August 2010.
Ownby is a longtime employee of Comcast. A Comcast vehicle was towed Thursday from the Sharps Ridge scene and taken to the city's impound lot, according to an employee of Clinton Highway Wrecker Service.
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