Ohio Chief Suspended For Failure To Report Incident

HARRISON TWP., Ohio --

Failure to report a firehouse incident two years ago has cost Fire Chief Mark Lynch 20 days pay while under suspension.

According to an investigative report obtained by WHIOTV.COM, the incident occurred while Lynch was a battalion chief for the department.

He witnessed a firefighter having sex with a woman at Harrison Township Station 94, 2400 Turner Road, while the firefighter was on duty.

Lynch was cited for failure to report the incident to his superior officers.

The issue came to light recently when the firefighter involved, Brian Scott, was undergoing a polygraph test for a full-time opening in the department.

He since has resigned from the department.

Harrison Township Administrator Randall Brooks requested an investigation by the Montgomery County Sheriffs office.

Investigators for the county interviewed several people present at the time during the incident and concluded the incident did occur in violation of multiple departmental policies.

No one could remember the exact date it happened.

The investigative report states:

Firefighter Scott admitted to Polygraph Examiner Mr. Carl Reeder on March 21, 2008 that he had sexual intercourse on-duty inside the firehouse on three different occasions while other Fire Department personnel watched.

Scott told WHIOTV.COM he was never interviewed by investigators and takes issue with the statement in the report.

He said there was only one incident when other people were present.

During other interviews, several firefighters denied watching the incident.

Lynch, a department employee for 21 years, at first denied any knowledge of it, but later said he did remember it.

Chief Lynch did not document the incident, initiate discipline or investigative proceedings; or report the incident to then Fire Chief Ronald Casey; even though he (Lynch) unequivocally believed the actions of the firefighters were in violation of Fire Departments personnel policies, the investigative report stated.

In an April 4, 2008 letter to the township administrator, Lynch explained his side of the story.

He said approximately two years ago he did find a firefighter in bed with a woman at the firehouse while on duty.

He told the woman to leave and talked with the firefighters involved about what had happened. Yet, Lynch did not report the incident to the fire chief.

I know I made a bad decision on my behalf not bringing this to the attention of the Fire Chief. I was truly concerned for the three employees families, their careers and in general their livelihood, most of all I was concerned about the publicity this would have brought to the Township, Chief Casey and myself, Lynch said.

Lynch went on to say:

I plead with you to please consider this one decision I made over two years ago not to control my destiny. I am very sorry, and I guarantee this will not occur again.

The investigative report concluded that Lynch, as Battalion Chief, had violated several department policies.

In response, the Harrison Township trustees suspended Lynch for 20 working days without pay.

The trustees extended Lynchs probationary status until May 19, 2009 and mandated additional training and encouraged Lynch to seek counseling regarding stress management and/or other related topics.

Lynch told WHIOTV.COM he was aware of only one incident involving a woman in the firehouse.

Looking back, he said he wished he had handled the situation differently.

He began his suspension 2 weeks ago and is scheduled to return to duty July 21.

Jim.otte@whiotv.com

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