The Department of Children's Services has removed three foster children from the home of Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby following his arrest on a charge of indecent exposure.
DCS tells 10News it had three children placed in the home. They removed the children Friday and suspended future placements at the home, pending the resolution of the current situation.
The decision to remove a child from a foster home is made on a case by case basis. In every case, the biggest priority is the safety of the child. In Ownby's case, DCS investigators looked at the nature of the charges and made the decision based on the best interest of the children.
The Ownbys were foster parents through the Florence Crittenton Agency, according to DCS. The agency works with DCS to place children in homes.
Florence Crittenton Agency leaders said they have no comment on the issue.
Ownby to plead not guilty
Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby will plead not guilty to a charge of indecent exposure.
His attorney, Gregory P. Isaacs, issued a statement requesting that everyone respect the privacy of Ownby and his family. Isaacs also says that Ownby will be entering counseling.
According to the warrant, Ownby "was observed with another male engaging in oral sex with one another. The defendant did not attempt to hide any of his actions from the public."
Ownby arrested, charged with indecent exposure
Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby was arrested Thursday at the Sharps Ridge park in North Knoxville.
Knoxville police officers were conducting undercover surveillance in the area in response to citizen complaints about illegal activity.
Ownby, 45, was arrested along with John McCracken, 53. Ownby was charged with indecent exposure and was being held under a $500 bond.
McCracken was charged with indecent exposure and criminal trespass.
Ownby is serving his first term as commissioner of the Fourth District.
He defeated Finbarr Saunders in the general election in August 2010.
According to the County Commission web page, Ownby has been married for 22 years. He has two sons and five foster children.
The County Commission is scheduled to vote on its budget, including a request for millions of dollars in additional funding for schools, on June 4.
Late Thursday evening, Ownby was released on bond from the Knox Co. Sheriff's Detention Facility.