Ex-cop charged with child rape caught in Washington state

Published 2:50 am Thursday, August 21, 2008

A former police officer who faces charges of raping a child in Shelby County was captured Monday in Washington state.

U.S. Marshals arrested Ronald L. Whitworth Jr., 35, in an apartment outside Tacoma, according to the United States Secret Service.

Shelby County sheriff deputies first arrested Whitworth back in April on charges of sexual abuse of a child under 12, rape and sodomy.

Whitworth spent about a week in jail before being released on $260,000 bond.

More charges were levied against Whitworth in May after members of the Secret Service searched his home.

Special Agent in Charge Roy Sexton said the Secret Service was brought in to assist in retrieving electronic data from Whitworth’s personal computer.

Officers with the Birmingham Electronic Crimes Task Force discovered dozens of movies and pictures containing child porn on that computer.

Sexton declined to comment further, saying he didn’t want to jeopardize the case.

A federal grand jury indicted Whitworth on charges of possessing child pornography and transporting a minor across state lines for sex, but he fled to Los Angeles before agents could arrest him.

His truck was found July 31 at the Birmingham International Airport. Inside were guns and a note that read, “They won’t ever fine me … six days in jail was unbearable for me,” according to authorities.

U.S. Marshals said Whitworth was staying with an acquaintance in Lynnwood, Wash., where he had assumed a new identity.

Before his arrest, the Secret Service listed Whitworth as one of their “Most Wanted Fugitives.”

Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick said Whitworth would be brought back to Alabama to face federal charges.

He will remain in federal custody, which means he may not necessarily return to Shelby County.

Bostick said his office still plans to prosecute state charges though.

“We will pursue with our state charges, and the U.S. District Court will with theirs,” Bostick said.

The district attorney’s office was granted a motion this week that revokes Whitworth’s bond, meaning if he is ever released from federal custody, he could be jailed here immediately.

U.S. Marshals will handle Whitworth’s extradition from Washington.