Oct. 13--An investigation of a Columbus firefighter has widened in an effort to determine whether supervisors tried to cover up his two-year sexual affair with a young woman while on duty.
Fire Division investigators have spent the past five months uncovering details during more than 85 interviews to determine how firefighter Marc Cain was able to violate division policy by having sex with the woman while on duty.
The interview transcripts, obtained by T he Dispatch through a public-records request, detail that Cain repeatedly lied to colleagues and supervisors and knowingly broke rules, and that his supervisors did not keep records of the woman's frequent visits to fire Station 17 on the West Side where he worked.
The Dispatch is not naming the woman because she is not under investigation.
The inquiry was stuck in neutral in the summer because firefighters told investigators they had no knowledge of an affair or weren't forthcoming with information. That changed after a series of events.
The first was that Cain's wife went to the station early in the summer and began questioning a firefighter about the woman. That firefighter said the Cains were accusing him of having the affair. There is no evidence to support that accusation.
A few weeks later, in June, the 20-year-old woman, who was 18 when the affair with Cain started, attempted suicide. She recovered after 14 days at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, her attorney said.
After she recovered, the woman supplied the Fire Division with a picture of Cain's penis, which Cain had texted to her. Cain, 48, has since admitted to investigators that he sent the picture while on duty. Cain said it was likely he had oral sex, but not intercourse, with the woman while on duty, but never in the fire station.
Two firefighters told investigators last month that Cain told them he had intercourse in the station.
"I'm a hard-working guy, and there are a lot of other guys at 17s (the fire station) that are good, hard workers, too, and they want to be there and they want this stuff to end because ... it's crushing people," one firefighter told investigators.
Cain has been assigned to another station but remains on active duty.
Meanwhile, allegations of a cover-up have touched the highest ranks of the division.
Assistant Fire Chief David K. Whiting removed himself in July from overseeing the investigation after accusations that he had compromised it by talking to Cain and other firefighters at Station 17.
Whiting told investigators that he broke protocol and spoke to Cain during the investigation because, after the woman's attempted suicide, her father threatened Cain's life.
Whiting told T he Dispatch that he felt it necessary to reach out to Cain because he'd never before heard such a threat made against a firefighter. Whiting said he also told Cain's supervisors about the threat.
Whiting said it was something he had never done as head of discipline for the division and that he never talked to Cain from the time the investigation was launched in April until the threat was made.
"He did ask me what he should do, and I said, 'Come to work,'??" Whiting said.
Firefighters said Cain contacted them during the investigation, trying to find out details of their interviews. In one instance, Cain warned a battalion chief that he was going to be questioned before investigators had notified the chief.
Concerned about collusion and Cain's actions, Fire Chief Gregory A. Paxton expanded the investigation. Paxton assigned Battalion Chief David Witosky to take over the investigation.
Last month, Lt. Christopher Kirchner, Cain's direct supervisor, told Witosky that he was aware of the sexual affair when he was first questioned in June but did not say so. When asked why, Kirchner said he wasn't asked about it by Lt. Lawrence Stevens in his initial interview.
A transcript of that interview shows that Stevens, asking about Cain and the woman, asked Kirchner to describe their relationship. Kirchner replied that it was "seemingly just a friendship."