Mad River Twp. leaders speak out on firefighter resignations, controversy

MAD RIVER TWP., Clark County — Leaders in one community tonight are responding to accusations they didn’t take an investigation into their fire department seriously.

RELATED: Mad River Twp. residents express concern about trustees’ handling of fire department investigation results

Back in January, News Center 7 uncovered past sexual assault accusations against a firefighter in Mad River Twp. Days later, that firefighter lost his job.

After a slew of resignations and months of contention at the Mad River Twp. Fire Department, township leaders today spoke publicly for the first time about the controversy with News Center 7's Sean Cudahy.

“We’ve really taken a look at policies and procedures in our township,” Trustee Kathy Estep said.

Estep said the township is moving forward, despite accusations of ineffective leadership.

At a township meeting on Monday, residents had questions about an investigation into whether the fire department leaders hired a firefighter — who no longer works there — knowing he had previous sex assault allegations against him.

“Well, all I can say, is the results of that investigation indicated that it was basically he-said, she-said. There was not … sufficient evidence to show that anyone … was intentionally lying to us,” Estep said.

That’s what a 600-page $24,000 report concluded.

No fire leadership was terminated as a result.

But a dozen employees resigned, with nearly 30 resignations since last year.

In the meantime, Estep said the department has hired 18 new members and is back up to appropriate staffing levels.

When it comes to emergency response, “this department will be there,” she said.

The department said it has implemented background checks and sexual harassment training for all its members, and Estep said trustees gave specific directives to fire department leadership.

“Our chief has followed those directives and has been working hard to improve the department. And I believe we have made significant improvements. There are people that are not going to be satisfied with that,” she said.