Sheriff’s Sergeant Jimmy Childs Arrested in Bellar Family Investigation | New
Athens County Sheriff’s Sergeant Jimmy Childs was arrested Friday evening in connection with the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office’s extensive investigation into the Bellar family.
Childs, also an Athens County School Resources Officer, has been charged with obstructing justice and tampering with evidence, two third degree felonies, according to booking records from the Southeast Regional Prison of the Ohio where he is being held.
Athens County investigators on Thursday executed a search warrant in Pike County where they recovered the cell phone of Robert Bellar, the indicted father of Serah Bellar who, along with his wife, has been charged with a number crimes related to sexual and physical complicity. child abuse in their homes.
Investigators on Friday executed a search warrant over the phone in Athens County and accuse him of suppressing evidence of a phone call he had with Robert and providing false information during of the prosecutor’s investigation, said Athens County Attorney Keller Blackburn.
He was arrested around 6:27 p.m. in Athens, Blackburn said. The Nelsonville Police Department transported Childs to jail.
Childs is due to appear in Athens County Municipal Court at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.
Childs, who has worked in the Athens County Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years, is often placed in the Law Enforcement category of the Athens News Reader’s Choice Awards.
Blackburn said the sheriff’s office was not involved in the investigation but Sheriff Rodney Smith was cooperative.
As previously reported by The Athens Messenger, indictments of members of the Bellar family, Childs is said to have a close connection to the family.
Bob Bellar, charged Tuesday with child endangerment charges, mentioned Childs in a previously recorded phone call with his son in prison, according to indictments, and said he believed Childs was “supporting them.”
Serah Bellar, 18, who recently resurfaced after disappearing in April 2020, also mentioned Childs by name during a conversation with prosecutors, according to documents. She also told the Athens Messenger in April that she believed Childs was a close friend of her parents, both indicted on Tuesday by the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office for putting their children in danger.
In a recorded phone call from prison, according to documents, Bob and his incarcerated son Josiah Bellar discussed Serah Bellar’s disappearance in 2020 and made reference to Childs apparently meeting Sheriff Rodney Smith.
“Robert tells Josiah that Jimmy (in reference to Jimmy Childs) has just left Rodney’s (in reference to [Athens County] Sheriff’s office Rodney Smith (sic) and Jimmy said he loved them and had the back (of the Bellar family), ”according to documents describing the taped call.
Serah got to know Childs through the Bellar family’s involvement in the Athens County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Program, where children work alongside law enforcement and participate in volunteer activities and to exercise. The Bellars were volunteer administrators of the program.
The documents contain allegations by Serah Bellar who believed Childs was revealing her whereabouts to the Bellars while she was in foster care in Athens County before her disappearance. She alleged that Childs approached her on several occasions at the school in her capacity as a resource officer for the Hocking Federal Schools.
In the indictment, Serah Bellar also alleged that she was harassed by relatives while at the Athens County Fair with her host family before fleeing, and has asked Childs for help. She alleged that Childs offered no help beyond asking them to stop.
Childs told The Athens Messenger on Wednesday that he did not recall the interaction.
In the indictments and in an interview with The Athens Messenger, Serah Bellar listed her fear of Childs as the reason she decided to run away.
The Messenger was able to contact Childs on Wednesday, who said he was unaware of the contents of the indictments.
Childs denied any irregularities on Wednesday.
“I don’t know anything about it, I’m pretty much irrelevant to the whole thing at this point,” Childs said after reading the indictment.
Asked about the taped phone call in which Bob Bellar expresses his confidence that Childs will help the family, Childs said he did not know and directed further questions to Smith.
“I don’t know about it – I don’t know about it,” Childs said.
He denied ever approaching Serah Bellar in his capacity as a school resources officer at Federal Hocking.
“I can’t answer that – I don’t work that way,” Childs said.
In 2019, the Athens County District Attorney’s Office expressed concern over Childs’ handling of a sexting case in his role as school resources manager for the Alexander School District, The Athens NEWS reported. In this case, a teacher alleged that she reported the sexting case and Childs informed them that Alexander Schools and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office had an ‘agreement’ on how to ‘handle things ” so that the children would not be hurt in these circumstances.
The prosecutor’s office was concerned that no incident report had been created by Childs or any other agent regarding an incident at Alexander Schools between the time of the incident’s initial report in January 2019, The Athens previously reported. NEWS.
In an interview about Childs’ naming in the indictment, Smith told the Messenger on Wednesday that he did not recall any interactions between him and Childs that were inappropriate in relation to the Bellar family.
Smith also said he could not say at this time whether Childs would be investigated because he had not had time to review the indictments.
The Athens County Sheriff’s Office withdrew from the Bellar investigation to avoid a perceived conflict of interest, as Robert and Deborah Bellar were involved in the AOSO Explorer program as parent volunteers, said Smith.
“As soon as these allegations were raised when Serah surfaced – that’s why I asked prosecutors to investigate because they were the parents of the explorers,” Smith said.
However, he said his office does not have a close relationship with the Bellars.
“There have been literally hundreds of kids of parents helping out and – of course, no one knew something like this was going on,” Smith said in reference to Bellar’s indictments.
The AthensNEWS reached out to Smith on Friday evening to comment on Childs’ arrest. He declined to comment on the situation and said the sheriff’s office would issue a statement on Monday.
Photos, however, seen by The Athens Messenger, show Smith, Childs and Robert Bellar comically posing together, or in others, photos of Childs and Smith with several members of the Bellar family.
The photos, seen on a publicly accessible Facebook of a relative of Smith, are mostly taken in 2019, including in December, months before Bellar’s disappearance.
Serah Bellar said in April that she believed, based on her experiences, her parents and Childs were close friends. She said her entire family was involved in the Sheriff’s Office Explorer Program, including herself.
“After a while as an administrator, (Deborah) and Jimmy got really close,” Serah told the Messenger. “(Childs) and Bob have always been best friends.”
On Tuesday, four family members of the formerly missing teenager were charged with a litany of physical and sexual abuse charges, the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
Serah, from Amesville, resurfaced in late April with a Facebook post of an account under a pseudonym, The Athens Messenger previously reported.
Bellar, as Delilah Rose Price, said in a lengthy post that she left her home of her own free will and described a pattern of abuse, including sexual abuse in her household. In her post, she said she wanted to wait until she was 18 to come forward, fearing for her safety.
The Athens County Sheriff’s Office worked to positively identify Bellar and assisted with search warrants while Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn launched an investigation with the cooperation of other police departments to begin to unravel the story of Bellar’s disappearance, the statement said.
Sydney Dawes and Kaitlin Thorne contributed reporting.