Parents of teenage fire department cadets at Mad River Twp. were asked to meet with fire leadership this week in the midst of a public revelation that a former lieutenant at the station had sexual misconduct complaints filed against him.
The discussions were held on the heels of an investigation conducted by this news organization into former Lt. Steven Schaefer and a series of resignations from the fire department by former employees.
There are no accusations against Schaefer by any current cadets.
Mad River Twp. Trustee Bob McClure confirmed the discussions but said he wasn’t part of them and couldn’t comment further. Mad River Twp. Fire Chief Tim Wendling didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.
This news organization spoke with four parents who asked not be identified but confirmed the discussions took place. They did share a text message they received from the department.
“If the kids are coming to the firehouse for cadets please have at least 1 parent speak to either Nick Thonton or Mike Gardone,” the message says. “This is very important.”
“So the fire chief said if there’s any way anyone can come down at any point tonight will be here.” the text message reads.
Schaefer resigned in the middle of an internal investigation at Bethel Twp. in 2017 when female co-workers accused him of sexual misconduct, public records show.
A previous sheriff’s report indicates Schaefer was accused of tricking a 17-year-old Mad River Cadet into having sex with him in 2011. The report says the two met because of her participation in cadet program, however, notes that Schaefer was not with the Mad River Twp. department at the time of the incident.
An investigation into the case found no criminal activity took place, according to the sheriff’s office.
Schaefer did not have contact with cadets in their present-day program, department leadership said.
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