Mad River Twp. will hire an investigator to look into its fire department.
The Mad River Twp trustees held a special meeting Tuesday night at the fire station where they immediately entered into executive session. The agenda stated the meeting was to discuss possible employee discipline.
“The purpose of the Mad River Township special meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. at Enon firehouse is an executive session for the purpose of considering the discipline of public employees and the investigation of complaints against public employees and any action necessary thereafter,” according to the agenda.
While no employee was reprimanded during the meeting, the trustees did say they are launching their own investigation. The trustees told this news organization it has received three new complaints about fire leadership in the last week. The Springfield News-Sun requested those complaints but haven’t received them.
The new internal investigation is launched in the midst of a newspaper investigation into Mad River Twp.’s fire department and its hiring practices. The newspaper revealed former Mad River Twp. Lt. Steven Schaefer had multiple sexual misconduct complaints field against him at Bethel Twp.
No criminal charges have been filed against him, however, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office has launched an investigation into the complaints.
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.
Schaefer resigned from Bethel Twp. in March 2017 before an internal investigation was completed.
Schaefer was hired and promoted into a leadership position at Mad River Twp. in 2018. It is still unclear who knew what at the time of the hiring, but fire chief Tim Wendling said previously he was not aware of the allegations against Schaefer.
Schaefer was fired from Mad River Twp. shortly after the newspaper investigation began. He hasn’t returned messages seeking comment.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Complaint filed against Mad River EMS/Fire administration, employees resign
“The township is not aware of the allegations referenced in your email, but like any concern brought to its attention, will exercise its due diligence and look into them,” Wendling said.
Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King said he had a conversation with Mad River Twp. leadership before Schaefer was hired there and told them he would not be welcomed back to his department.
“I was contacted by the administration prior to their hiring Schaefer,” King told this news organization. “I gave him an unfavorable rating and advised that Bethel would not hire him again.”
King declined to comment about what specifically was discussed during the conversation.
King previously said the public records request submitted by this news organization prompted the department to forward complaints to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
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