Deputies: Bethel Local Schools staff member on leave following citizens group video

MIAMI COUNTY — A Bethel Local Schools staff member is on administrative leave for an investigation into possible “employee misconduct” after a video was posted to YouTube by a citizens group.

Parents in the district were notified about the investigation in a letter sent by district Superintendent Justin Firks Wednesday. The staff member, who was not identified, was placed on administrative leave while the district and law enforcement conducted investigations, Firks said.

The investigation centers around a video posted by a vigilante group known as “Dads Against Predators,” according to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office. The group is known for posing as children online, trying to lure people they call sexual predators, then recording and posting confrontations with the people who show up.

The video, posted on March 20, shows what the group said was a conversation between the school employee and who he thought was a 13-year-old girl. The man later tries to meet who he thought was the girl for sex before he’s confronted by the group.

In the video, the group indicates the incident took place in the Miami Valley, and makes mention of places in Dayton, Huber Heights, and Riverside.

Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Steve Lord told News Center 7 Friday the DAP group notified the school district this week about the video but did not contact law enforcement. After the district was notified about the video they contacted the sheriff’s office, Lord said.

The sheriff’s office is assisting in the investigation, however law enforcement agencies in the area are working to determine who the lead investigating agency will be. Lord said there is indication a crime was committed, but the agencies need to determine where it happened.

Lord said the sheriff’s office took an incident report at the school and seized some computer equipment the man had access to in his workplace.

News Center 7 is not identifying the school employee since charges have not been officially filed. The Huber Heights Police Department have filed an incident report in connection the investigation.

The document obtained by News Center 7 indicated that Huber Heights police have an investigation pending into a Unlawful Sexual Contact with a Minor, a fourth degree felony. The incident was reported to have occurred at a home on the 7300 block of Dial Drive.

The DAP group has caused some controversy in Ohio before, as recently as last year. CBS Affiliate WTOL-TV reported on the group’s efforts in 2020 after law enforcement threatened prosecution for group members if they continued.

However, the station said prosecutors are not able to charge the people lured in the group’s videos because they didn’t talk directly to children or actual law enforcement officers posing as children.

Sandusky County Sheriff Christopher Hilton said the group’s actions render “law enforcement unable to criminally charge these individuals and prosecutors unable to prosecute” and has “resulted in the loss of life,” according to a report from the Toledo Blade on the subject.

This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update this page as new details become available.