UPDATE: Preliminary hearing set in Athens County deputy’s case
ATHENS, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE: 5/24/21 1:00 P.M.
Athens County Sheriff’s Deputy Jimmy Childs appeared in Athens County Municipal Court Monday morning, where a preliminary hearing was set for June 1.
Childs has been charged with obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence, two third-degree felonies, after the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office said he had destroyed evidence of a phone call between him and a suspect in an alleged sexual abuse case.
According to prosecutors, Deputy Childs spoke with Robert Bellar while a search warrant was being served and then allegedly erased the phone call and Bellar’s contact information from his device.
He also allegedly failed to tell a supervising officer about the phone call until after his phone was seized by authorities.
And, Childs is accused of lying to prosecutors who were investigating the Bellar case.
Robert and Deborah Bellar are in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail on $1 million bonds, accused of covering up sexual abuse in their home.
Two of their sons, Josiah and Jonathan Bellar, have been indicted on gross sexual imposition charges. Josiah Bellar has also been indicted on three counts of rape.
Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith put Childs on paid administrative leave as soon as he found out about the phone call, a news release said.
“My office will have an outside agency conduct our own internal disciplinary investigation into Deputy Childs’ alleged conduct after the criminal legal proceedings have concluded,” Smith said. “It has been my mission to restore the integrity of The Athens County [Sheriff’s] Office during my tenure, and we will continue to hold our deputies to a high ethical and professional standard. There are no allegations of wrongdoing against this office or any other deputy. We will continue to be open, honest and forthcoming with this investigation.”
Childs was arrested by Nelsonville Police and the Athens County Sheriff’s Department on Friday.
He bonded out of the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail later that evening.
Childs is being represented by attorney George Gerken.
Prosecutors said if Childs’s case is heard by a grand jury, and a true bill is returned, the municipal court case will be dismissed and proceedings will continue with an arraignment in Athens County Common Pleas Court.
UPDATE: 5/21/21 10:45 P.M.
An Athens County deputy was arrested for tampering with evidence and obstructing justice in connection to the Bellar family case, according to the newspaper The Athens Messenger.
Athens County Sheriff Sergeant Jimmy Childs was booked into the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail at 7:52 p.m. Friday, the jail’s website said.
According to jail officials, Childs was released Friday night on a $20,000 bond.
The Athens Messenger reported Childs has been accused of deleting evidence of a phone call he had with Robert Bellar and providing false information during the course of the prosecutor’s investigation.
Four members of the Bellar family have been indicted on a variety of charges stemming from alleged sexual abuse in the family home. One of the Bellar children, Serah Bellar, has claimed members of her family sexually assaulted her. Her mother and father, Robert and Deborah Bellar, have been accused of covering up the alleged abuse.
Childs has been a part of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office for a number of years. He has served as a school resource officer.
Robert Bellar pleaded not guilty to charges of endangering children and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity during an arraignment in Athens County Common Please Court on Friday.
Bellar, 54, was indicted on the charges Tuesday, stemming from the accusation that he and his wife, Deborah, covered up sexual abuse in their home.
Robert Bellar turned himself in Wednesday afternoon after a nationwide arrest warrant was issued following his indictment.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Liz Pepper told the court on Friday that Bellar was a flight risk and requested a $1 million dollar bond.
She said Bellar knew of a search warrant being executed at his home and was told to go home from his place of employment, but never did so.
“He instead went out of town to his brother’s home in Waverly, Ohio, where he placed his phone to make sure it was not on his person when he did eventually turn himself in,” Pepper said. “It was only after his picture was blasted all over the media … that he eventually turned himself in.”
Authorities now have the phone, thanks to the information they got from a recorded phone call at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail, a press release said.
According to that news release, Bellar’s attorney, James Chandler, argued that Bellar had gone to Waverly to seek legal counsel and that an attorney had the phone before another family member did.
He also noted that Bellar did turn himself in.
The prosecution, however, also argued that Bellar and his wife have been uncooperative with Athens County Children Services, hidden witnesses, tampered with evidence, and worked to hide abuse in their home.
Judge Patrick Lang handed Bellar a $1 million bond Friday, as he did for Deborah Bellar on Wednesday.
According to Lang, Judge George McCarthy will preside over the case and does have the ability to reassess the bond.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 29 and a trial is set for July 29.
Robert Bellar is to have no contact with any of his minor children or any of his codefendants in the case.
Two of Robert Bellar’s sons were also indicted on separate charges related to alleged ongoing sexual abuse in the Bellar home.
Jonathan Bellar was indicted Tuesday on a single count of gross sexual imposition.
The younger Bellar was also arraigned Friday before Judge Lang.
The prosecution requested he be given a $100,000 bond because of his apparent criminal history.
He was on post-release control when he was taken into custody earlier this week.
He was previously incarcerated on escape, robbery, and breaking and entering charges.
The prosecution also said he posed a risk to the victim in his case.
“He’s certainly shown his proclivity towards violence … Even when out on (post-release control), he’s already been sent back to prison because he was threatening people with a knife in Nelsonville, Ohio,” Pepper said in a news release.
He was also tagged as a security threat for gang affiliation during a recent prison stint.
Lang handed Jonathan Bellar a $100,000 bond.
Jonathan Bellar has a pretrial hearing on June 14 and a trial is set for July 27.
The second of the Bellar sons indicted alongside their parents is Josiah Bellar, who was indicted on multiple counts of rape and gross sexual imposition.
He is already in prison on unrelated charges and has not yet been arraigned.
The Bellars came under investigation when Serah Bellar, one of Robert and Deborah’s children, reappeared in March of 2021, after being reported missing for close to a year.
In a social media post, Serah accused her family of sexual assault and said she ran away, afraid.
You can read more about the case below.
UPDATE: 5/20/21 10:30 a.m.
Robert Bellar is in custody, according to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.
Bellar, alongside his wife who has already been arraigned, has been indicted on charges stemming from alleged sexual abuse in his home.
Robert and Deborah Bellar are charged with two counts of child endangerment and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Two of their sons have been indicted on gross sexual imposition charges, and one of the two has been indicted on rape charges.
Robert Bellar is set to be arraigned on Friday.
You can read more about this story below.
An Athens County woman accused of covering up sexual abuse in her home pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges during an arraignment in Athens County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday.
Deborah Bellar was given a $1 million bond by Judge Patrick Lang.
The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office requested Bellar be given a such a high bond because of how serious her charges are, and accused Bellar of having a history of being uncooperative with law enforcement.
“She has concealed witnesses. She has tampered with evidence and she continues a conspiracy to hide sexual abuse that has occurred in her home,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Liz Pepper.
Bellar and her husband, Robert, have been charged with two counts of endangering children and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
All three charges stem from the aforementioned accusation that sexual abuse was covered up in their home.
The prosecutor’s office began investigating that alleged sexual abuse after Bellar’s daughter, Serah, resurfaced after being reported missing for around a year.
When she turned up, Serah Bellar made several allegations against members of her family, including sexual assault.
On Tuesday, Josiah Bellar, Serah Bellar’s brother, was indicted on three counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition.
Another brother, Jonathan, has also been indicted on one count of gross sexual imposition.
If Deborah is able to post bond, Judge Lang has agreed to a request from the prosecutor’s office that she will wear an ankle monitor and will not be allowed to contact any of her 18 children or her husband.
Robert Bellar has not yet been captured. He has a nationwide warrant out for his arrest.
Authorities said Josiah Bellar was already in prison on unrelated charges and Jonathan was arrested Wednesday by the Athens Police Department.
Jonathan Bellar is in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail and is set to be arraigned on Thursday.
Deborah Bellar has been appointed an attorney, Jeremy Roth.
She has a pretrial hearing scheduled for June 24 at 10 a.m.
The parents and two brothers of a teenager who went missing last year have been indicted on charges stemming from sexual abuse in the family home.
The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office said Serah Bellar was reported missing in April of 2020 when she was 16-years-old, but recently turned up using a fake name on social media.
Bellar, now 18, used a pseudonym to write a social media post accusing members of her family of several crimes, including sexual assault.
She said she waited until she turned 18 to come forward, fearing for her safety.
Athens County authorities were able to track Bellar down and verify that the social media post did indeed come from her.
Meanwhile, an investigation into the allegations was opened.
Bellar’s brother Josiah Bellar, 24, has since been indicted on three counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition.
Two different alleged juvenile victims are listed in Josiah’s charges.
The rape charges stem from events that allegedly happened between January 2011 and 2014, between April of 2015 and 2016, and between April 2008 and 2016.
Another brother, Jonathan Bellar, 26, has also been accused of gross sexual imposition.
Bellar’s parents, Robert Bellar, 54, and Deborah Bellar, 49, are accused of conspiring to conceal sexual abuse within the home.
They both face a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and two charges of endangering children.
Their endangering children charges list Serah Bellar and another child as victims.
Deborah Bellar is already in custody and Robert Bellar has a nationwide warrant out for his arrest.
Including Serah, Deborah and Robert have 18 children together.
The prosecutor’s office said Athens County Children Services received multiple reports of sexual abuse in the Bellar home between 2017 and 2020, but no formal action was ever taken.
“There was an absolute systematic failure in handling these accusations,” Prosecuting Attorney Keller Blackburn said. “Serah was turned away by authorities every time she tried to report this abuse. Fearing for her continued safety, she left the state and was victimized again by those who she thought were helping her.”
According to Blackburn, Serah Bellar was found in Georgia.
With the help of the Toombs County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, two other suspects were taken into custody.
Their names are Jerry and Shayna Chadwick. They are charged with interfering with custody.
The case is still being investigated.
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