OH Firefighters Terminated after Harassment Probe

The Orange Township firings followed a three-month investigation into hazing and bullying allegations concerning a part-time firefighter who wanted to become full-time.

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
Orange Twp Fire Ems (oh)
Orange Township, OH, Fire Department

Three Orange Township firefighters, including two supervisors, were fired Monday morning following a three-month investigation involving harassment, hazing and bullying.

Firefighter Bradley Belville, Capt. John Hodges and Lt. Dave Martin were fired during a special township meeting. Four other firefighters will receive lesser punishment, details of which had not been released.

Those firefighter/paramedics are Chris McKenzie, John Roche and Josh Loney. Katie Townsley was disciplined for an unrelated matter.

According to a 34-page investigative report, the inquiry began in September and involved mistreatment of a part-time firefighter who sought to become full-time.

The firefighter, Marcus Musser, was assigned to Station 361, where he and others say he was repeatedly harassed. The station is at 7700 Gooding Boulevard.

According to the report, he was called names and obscenities and forced to wear a garbage can strapped around his shoulders. He was often hit in the groin, causing him to flinch and cover himself when colleagues approached.

The culture of harassment ... was pervasive and not directed solely at Musser, Martin told investigators, "more of a group thing if anyone messed up."

Martin said he couldn't remember if he had touched Musser in the groin, but acknowledged that he had seen others do so in a joking manner.

Musser had told investigators that he initially took the abuse because he wanted to "fit in" and be a part of the brotherhood.

According to the report, the conduct was serious and might have involved criminal conduct including sexual assault and battery. The allegations were given to the Delaware County Sheriff's office for followup.

The township "will not tolerate such unacceptable behavior in the workplace," said Amanda E. Sheterom, human resources manager, who oversaw the investigation with Chief Matt Noble.

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