Former Ohio State student and Hamilton Township High School valedictorian Jeremy Edington was convicted Tuesday of soliciting an underage boy for sex and for possession of child pornography. A jury sentenced him to 13 years in federal prison.
Cpl. Dan Johnson of the Franklin County sheriff’s office, who testified against Edington during the trial, said that his department became involved after they came across an ad posted by Edington online.
“Basically Edington posted an ad on a social networking site advertising that he was looking for sexual relations with a young boy,” Johnson told The Lantern. “Then investigators with the Internet Crimes Task Force responded to the ad and began the investigation. Through the course of the investigation and the communication between Mr. Edington and the undercover investigator, they came up with a plan to meet for sex and then Mr. Edington was taken into custody. As a result of that, another investigation began and Mr. Edington’s computers were seized and searched, and child pornography was found.”
Johnson said that the investigation took approximately two months, with Edington being officially charged in July.
Edington maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
He told the jury that his intent was to issue the boy a simple warning, nothing more.
“His excuse was that he was coming to meet what he believed to be a juvenile boy, and even though they talked about having sex in the chat forum, he said the reason that he was coming to meet this boy was to warn him about his risky behavior online,” Johnson said. “That is what he maintained throughout the trial.”
“I have done nothing wrong in my life,” Edington said, as he pled his innocence to U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus during the trial.
Johnson said that due to the nature of the crimes, Edington was tried in federal court as opposed to Franklin County Court.
“The totality of the circumstances is why this case was taken to federal court,” Johnson said. “We’re not talking about someone who just had pornography, not to minimize child pornography, but here is someone who possessed child pornography and used this as a springboard to reach out and attempt to have sex with a juvenile.”
Edington declined to comment for this story.
His lawyer, Dean Boland, maintains Edington’s innocence, and said there will be an appeal of both the verdict and the sentence.
Ruth Gerstner, special assistant of communications for the Office of Student Life at OSU, said she had not heard of Edington’s conviction.
“I am not familiar with the case,” Gerstner said. “We have no comment on legal issues involving students or former students.”
Former classmates of Edington describe him as “nice” and “happy-go-lucky,” but “weird.”
Jacob Santille, who graduated from Hamilton Township High School in 2008 with Edington described him as “different.”
Santille, a fourth-year in strategic communication, elaborated on what he said made Edington stand out.
“It’s just the way he carried himself, and it was just kind of the vibe that he gave off that he was a little bit different from everyone,” Santille said. “Honestly, all of his quirks were kind of ignored because he was a 4.0 (GPA), super driven guy, so we let it all slide and just assumed he was weird because he was smart or something like that.”
Other former peers of Edington had nothing but good things to say.
“He was an overachiever, a happy-go-lucky kid who smiled a lot, made a lot of jokes, just overall a happy person,” said Rebecca Ruppert, a third-year in fashion retail studies and graduate of Hamilton Township High School.
Heather Stearns, a fifth-year in business who also attended Hamilton Township High School, was equally surprised when she heard the news.
“I was shocked when I first heard of it. Someone texted it to me and I thought they were messing with me,” Stearns, said. “I never would have expected anything like that at all. He seemed like a normal guy to me.”