Knox County Commissioner Ownby arrested for indecent exposure

Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby arrested for indecent exposure

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Commissioner Jeff Ownby (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) Commissioner Jeff Ownby (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
John McCracken (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) John McCracken (Source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby was arrested Thursday afternoon on a charge of indecent exposure at a city park.

Ownby, 45, was taken into custody at Sharps Ridge Memorial Park during a police surveillance operation. Police say citizens have complained about illegal activity in the park.

According to court affidavits, officers saw Ownby having oral sex with another man around 4:30 p.m.

Ownby was booked into the detention center and later released on a $500 bond.

John F. McCracken, 53, of Powell, was also arrested after he was allegedly seen having oral sex. He's charged with indecent exposure and criminal trespass, and later released on a $1,000 bond.

Police say McCracken went onto private property, earning him the trespassing charge, but Ownby did not.

Ownby was scheduled to be in court Friday morning, but it was reset to June 12.

Neither man has a previous criminal history in Knox County, according to the sheriff's office.

County commissioners had mixed reactions to the news.

"The first thing that goes through my mind is the commissioner, his family members, his children," said Commissioner R. Larry Smith. "You know, we as commissioners what can we do to rally our support around him, and let him know that we're thinking about him and his family."

"Obviously, if these charges are true, and he deserves his day in court, Mr. Ownby needs to resign," said Commissioner Mike Hammond. "The other aspect is, we have no authority to remove him from office.That will be up to Mr. Ownby to decide what he is to do."

Ownby is serving his first term as commissioner of the Fourth District.

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