The Bethel Twp. fire chief says he told Mad River Twp. fire leadership that his department wouldn’t re-hire a lieutenant who’s now the focus of a Clark County Sheriff’s investigation.
Mad River Twp. leadership contacted Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King as part of the vetting process before the township hired Steven Schaefer, King said. He says he told them that Schaefer wouldn’t be welcomed back in Bethel Twp.
“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. An investigation has been launched by the office.
Messages sent to Mad River Twp. Fire Chief Tim Wendling weren’t returned. Previously, Wendling said the fire department didn’t know about the sexual misconduct allegations.
“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.
Schaefer was fired from Mad River Twp. last week. He hasn’t returned messages seeking comment.
The former lieutenant has emerged as a key figure in this newspaper’s investigation into previous sexual misconduct complaints lodged against him and why several employees at the Mad River Twp. Fire Department have resigned in recent months.
The accusations stem from incidents alleged to have occurred at the Bethel Twp. Fire Department, where Schaefer also previously worked. No criminal charges have been filed against him.
Two women filed two separate complaints against Schaefer on Feb. 21, 2017, with Bethel Twp.
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 current investigation is the second time the sheriff’s office has received a complaint against Schaefer. Schaefer was reported by a 17-year-old in 2011 who said he had tricked her into having sex with him. The girl said the two met while she was a cadet at the Mad River Twp. program, however at the time of the alleged incident Schaefer was no longer working for Mad River Twp.
No criminal charges were filed against him however, as the sheriff’s office determined no criminal activity took place.
Mad River Twp. this week asked parents of cadets to meet with fire leadership, Wendling said.
“On Tuesday evening Feb. 5, I met with the parents of our department cadets to reassure parents that we have their child’s safety and welfare as a top priority,” Wendling said. “I felt this necessary to convey accurate and factual information to them.”
Wendling declined further comment.
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