COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former WBNS-10TV meteorologist Mike Davis was sentenced Thursday to four to six years in prison.
Davis, 60, was sentenced on four charges related to possession of child pornography. Davis had entered guilty pleas to the charges on Jan. 30. His sentencing had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and its response.
In motions filed prior to Thursday’s hearing, Terry Sherman, Davis’ attorney, had argued Davis did not deserve a prison term, citing Sherman’s own research into Franklin County cases with similar charges that showed 83% of those cases did not result in a prison sentence.
“The number of pictures should not be the driving force behind whatever sentence the court intends to impose,” Sherman wrote in a motion filed May 20.
Sherman said Davis has been attending out-patient counseling services, including twice weekly telehealth visits since the pandemic began. He also expressed concern about the conditions of prisons, particularly for someone of Davis’s age, with the quick spread of coronavirus within prison walls.
Sherman also said Davis has some health issues and is 60, and expressed concern about sending Davis to prison when 1 in 10 Ohio inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Franklin County Assistant Prosecutors Kara Keating and Daniel Meyer argued against a sentence of probation or time in a community-based correctional facility (CBCF) in a motion filed in March.
The prosecutors said the number of images Davis possessed on his electronic devices, totaling nearly 16,000, was “extreme” and made the case “among the most serious.”
Prosecutors also said Davis lacked true remorse for the “thousands of felonies” he committed.
“He objectifies these abused children by referring to them as ‘it’ and his crime as ‘collecting,’ comparing it to collecting toys, comic books and coins,” prosecutors wrote.
Sherman said Davis has shown genuine remorse, questioning the probation officer’s interpretation of Davis’s responses during a pre-sentence investigation interview.
“Despite being subjected to relentless public vilification by the local media, shunned by his colleagues and shamed beyond measure, Mr. Davis has remained steadfastly committed to the task of helping to ensure that he will never re-offend by actively and honestly engaging in therapy and treatment. Actions speak louder than words,” Sherman wrote.
Davis had been arrested in September 2019 after the Franklin County Internet Crimes against Children Task Force received a tip regarding pornographic images involving children being downloaded by an internet provider address linked to Davis.
Shortly after his arrest, WBNS fired Davis, who had worked as a meteorologist at the station for more than 30 years.
Speaking before the court Thursday, Davis said he hadn’t originally understood that his actions victimized children, but understands that now.
“I’ve also victimized my wife, my kids, my family, my friends and all the good people of central Ohio who trusted me for over 30 years on television, so I’m sorry for all of that,” he said.
“I have no excuse for compulsively collecting the images,” Davis continued. “It’s just something I did, and I’m ashamed for having done it.”
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Karen Phipps called the facts of the case “horrendous,” noting she was more concerned about the length of Davis’ actions — seven years — than the number of images.
“You groomed your family and your coworkers to allow you to engage in a sex offense for seven years and go undetected,” she said.
Phipps also said she was concerned that Davis referred to the children in the images as objects
“These are victims who were groomed and abused for years to get them to participate in these acts,” she said. “You chose to support an industry that re-victimized these children over and over for years.”