Social Worker Arrested for Grooming and Assaulting 13yo Boy

( – A state-licensed Ohio youth counselor and social worker from Mount Sterling has been busted for allegedly sleeping with a boy whose case she had been assigned to oversee. Police in Columbus say the counselor, a 24-year-old woman named Payton Shires, confessed to the allegations leveled against her.

According to court documents, the 13-year-old victim’s mother approached police on September 27th after finding what she claimed were incriminating text exchanges between the 24-year-old and her child. Upon reviewing the exchanges and diving deeper into the phone’s contents, authorities discovered damning video evidence showing the pair engaging intimately.

Police then interviewed the 13-year-old who said he acknowledged sleeping with his case worker a minimum of two separate times during the month of September. Following the interview, authorities set up a sting of sorts in which they had the boy’s mother call Shires. During their exchange, which was being monitored by the Columbus PD, Shires is said to have admitted to the allegations posed against her.

The 24-year-old was taken into custody on October 6th and charged with the equivalent of unlawful intimate conduct with a child. Her bond was set at $500,000 and there is no indication that she has posted it.

Shires’ counseling license is only four months old, according to state records. Those same records show that she was a previous employee at the National Youth Advocate Program, a group that works with children who have been placed in foster care.

It is not known if Shires left NYAP on her own accord or if she was let go. It is likewise unclear if Shires met her 13-year-old victim through her former employer or elsewhere, but it is known that the boy received services from the group at one time.

The organization released a statement following Shires’ arrest and said they were “saddened” by the events involving their former employee and the young person they had once served.

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