A former lieutenant at the Mad River Twp. Fire Department was terminated and a criminal investigation has been launched into allegations against him.
Steven Schaefer was terminated last week, according to Mad River Twp. Trustees.
The accusations stem from incidents alleged to have occurred at the Bethel Twp. Fire Department, where he also previously worked. No criminal charges have been filed against him.
A public records request filed by this news organization found Schaefer was at the center of two sexual misconduct complaints filed by two female co-workers.
Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King said the public records request prompted the department to forward the complaints to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and that an investigation has been launched.
The first complaint alleges he forced a female co-worker to perform a sex act on him in late 2016. The second complaint accuses Schaefer of forcibly touching a different female co-worker in February 2017. The complaints were filed on Feb. 21, 2017, with Bethel Twp.
Mad River Twp. released a statement Monday saying they were alerted of the allegations and moved to terminate an employee: “A few days ago, the Mad River Township Trustees received information related to serious allegations against one of its employees. … As a result, the township quickly looked into the allegations to determine the validity. While unable to conclude with certainty if the allegations are true or not, the township has decided to move on.”
Trustee Robert McClure said that employee was Schaefer.
A message to Schaefer seeking comment has not been returned.
The accusations were detailed in the complaints filed against Schaefer, according to the documents.
The woman who says she was forced to perform a sex act alleges that she had previous run-ins with Schaefer where he put his hands on her without her consent.
“I have had an incident with Lt. Steve Schaefer back around late 2016 on a Friday night,” the complaint says. “We were in the kitchen and he was making comments about how if you resist it turns him on more. I rolled my eyes and he then took me by my throat and put me up against the wall. At first, it wasn’t hard, but as soon as I said “stop please” he tightened his grip around my throat.”
The woman said the encounter stopped when Schaefer saw the woman’s husband and a friend walking their way. The husband confronted Schaefer and Schaefer allegedly said he was just joking. The husband told Schaefer “no,” the complaint says.
However, according to the complaint, the assaults escalated.
“In late 2016, an incident happened in our EMS room with Lt. Steve Schafer,” the complaint says. “He sent me out to the ems room to grab some supplies and while I was there he came in the room with me. I asked him why did you send me out here if you were coming out here anyhow. He replied back with because you’re going to do something for me if you want out of here.”
The woman said Schafer forced himself onto her, saying that she told him no but didn’t think she had any other option. The woman did say that she eventually was able to jump up and get away from the situation.
“He said it was just a joke and laughed,” the complaint says. “I then got to the door and took off to the girl’s bathroom where I cried …”
The other woman who filed a complaint said that on Feb. 17, 2017, Schaefer allegedly unhooked her bra through her shirt, touched her knee, hair, buttocks and between her legs.
The complaint says Schaefer followed her around the fire station and touched her inappropriately numerous times.
“He grabbed my hair again and pulling me around by my hair,” the complaint says. “He kept trying to get close to my neck. Blowing on it and trying to whisper close to me. I kept trying to pull away but couldn’t get very far with him with my hair. I finally got way, grabbed my pop off the ground and went to go back in. He followed me and stopped me from putting in the code and cornered me in the corner of the bunk room and entry door to (the) station. He grabbed at me again and I got the code entered and went straight into the radio room and stood next to (another man).”
King said the Bethel Twp. Fire Department took the allegations seriously and opened an internal investigation.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for these kinds of accusations,” King said. “At the time we immediately put him on unpaid leave pending an investigation and he resigned before the investigation was finished.”
He resigned from his position in March 2017, according to his resignation letter.