A Springfield police officer and his wife are facing child endangering charges for the dirty living conditions Clark County investigators said they found in their home.
Springfield police Lt. Noel Lopez, 49, and Kimberly Lopez, 44, pleaded not guilty to three counts each of child endangering Tuesday before Judge Denise Moody. The charges are first-degree misdemeanors.
The couple's pleas were entered prior to their scheduled appearance at 11 a.m. before Judge Eugene Nevius in Clark County Municipal Court, according to court records.
Clark County sheriff's deputies were called to the Lopez home on Tamarack Avenue in Moorefield Twp. on Monday by Springfield police investigators stemming from an ongoing investigation at the residence.
While there, deputies reported finding the home in "very poor condition," with dirty clothes and toys piled up inside rooms and in the garage. In some cases, deputies said the piles were so high there was no way for someone to safely exit the room in the case of an emergency. The bedrooms where the couple's three children slept were also reportedly dirty, and contained filthy mattresses with no sheets or blankets, according to the report.
"The house presented a health concern and also a safety concern for the children that were living in this house," wrote Deputy Brian Melchi.
Children's Services workers were called and an official said the three children living there, 6-year-old twin girls and a 9-year-old boy, could not stay in those conditions. They were taken to a relative's house. The agency said it would be back out next week to re-check conditions.
Police Chief Stephen Moody did not return a phone call seeking comment, and no one answered the door at the Lopez residence Tuesday.
When questioned by deputies, Kimberly Lopez said medical issues prevent her from cleaning. Investigators photographed a large wipeboard in the home where Kimberly wrote a list of chores, including cleaning rooms, doing dishes and making beds.
Noel Lopez was questioned at the sheriff's office on Fountain Avenue. He told deputies he does live in the home, but declined to answer any questions regarding their investigation, according to the incident report.
This is the second time this year Children's Services workers were at the home. The agency closed their most recent investigation in September after a check-up revealed improved living conditions.
This is the third time deputies have been at the home this year.
In August they were called when Kimberly Lopez reported she was being "held against her will," by her husband. No charges were filed in that case.
In March, Noel Lopez was charged with domestic violence for alleged incidents that occurred March 14 and Feb. 24. Due to his role in the police department, the case was handled by a special prosecutor, Andrew Sexton, who is an assistant prosecutor in the city of Dayton.
The charges were dismissed without prejudice in June and Sexton said he intended to refile. On Tuesday, however, he confirmed that the case officially has been dropped. He said further investigation and interviews by his office revealed there was insufficient evidence to go to trial.
"In my opinion they correctly charged Noel Lopez based on what they knew at the time of the arrest," Sexton said. "We then did our own investigation."
Lopez was placed on administrative duties at the police department during that investigation.
Springfield attorney James Skogstrom filed an initial appearance for both Noel and Kimberly Lopez. He requested a pre-trial in both cases, according to court records. Both remain free on their own recognizance.