Crime

He used to be spokesman for DCF. He’s now charged with 12 counts of child pornography

Thomas William Barnes, 67, of Gainesville, was arrested Thursday and faces multiple counts of possession of child pornography after police found several images on his computer. Barnes’ was a former spokesman for the Department of Children and Families.
Thomas William Barnes, 67, of Gainesville, was arrested Thursday and faces multiple counts of possession of child pornography after police found several images on his computer. Barnes’ was a former spokesman for the Department of Children and Families. Courtesy of Alachua County Jail

A man who used to be the spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families has been arrested on charges of child pornography.

Thomas William Barnes, 67, of Gainesville, is charged with 11 counts of possession of sexual performance by a child and one count of promoting a photo of a sexual performance by a child, according to Alachua County jail records. He is being held on bonds totaling $900,000.

The former DCF spokesman was first accused of sending an obscene photo involving a juvenile after Yahoo! alerted law enforcement to the photo in August. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received the report from Yahoo! that said a user, later identified as Barnes, sent a graphic photo of a man and a girl, the Gainesville Sun reported.

Gainesville police obtained a search warrant and reportedly found child pornography on Barnes’ computer.

The report, according to the Sun, said the computer contained multiple folders of child porn that was hidden under sub folders with innocuous names. For example, one folder titled “Too much” contained at least 55 images.

The content, Barnes reportedly admitted to police, included depictions of sexual intercourse with children as young as 6.

Barnes hasn’t worked for the Florida Department of Children and Families for over a decade, communications director Jessica Sims said.

“We are absolutely disgusted by the abhorrent allegations against this individual,” said Sims. “Mr. Barnes separated from the agency more than 10 years ago.”

Samantha Putterman: 941-745-7027, @samputterman

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