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Charges pending for Glen counselor

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Last week the Greene County Sheriff began working with the Greene County Prosecutor to settle on charges that will likely be handed to the Glen Helen naturalist who two weeks ago lied about a man with a gun in the Glen. The story caused a mild panic, putting both Antioch College and the Outdoor Education Center on a half-day lock down and sending dozens of law enforcement personnel on a four-hour ghost hunt through the woods.

“Tremendous taxpayer dollars were spent searching, and many hours were wasted, from the Sheriff, Yellow Springs police department, the state parks, the state highway patrol, and other agencies,” Sheriff Gene Fischer said last week. “We don’t take these things lightly.”

The false report was given on Thursday, June 27, around 12:30 p.m., followed by the lock-down and the search, which was called off at 4 p.m. that day. Though authorities “had their suspicions” about the accuracy of the story last week, Fischer said, police and sheriff deputies continued to provide additional security to the area around the Glen for several days before pronouncing the area safe again. The Greene County Sheriff then called the naturalist in again for routine follow-up questioning on Wednesday, July 3, when, presented with inconsistencies in his story, he admitted that he had fabricated the event.

The counselor was terminated from his position following the allegations the previous week and could be charged with filing a false report, which according to the Ohio Revised Code, is considered a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and up to a $1,000 fine, or worse if the false report causes economic harm.

Though the sheriff considers the offense to be a “crime against the public,” officers released the naturalist, believing that his offense did not make him an immediate danger to the public. Charges against him are still pending with the prosecutor, Assistant Prosecutor Suzanne Schmidt said this week. The naturalist’s name will be released when the charges are made.

According to Glen Helen Ecology Institute Director Nick Boutis, the counselor is a college student (not from Antioch) who worked for the Glen’s Outdoor Education Center last summer and had done well, so the Glen asked him back this summer. All of the Glen’s employees must pass background checks before being hired by Antioch College, the body that owns the Glen. And he passed the check, Boutis said.

One of six boys dorm monitors at Eco Camp, the counselor had not exibited any suspicious behavior before last week’s incident, Boutis said.

“It feels shockingly out of character and history,” Boutis said about the counselor’s behavior. “I can only imagine what was going on in his life that would have precipitated this…and I think it’s reasonable to say that he did not anticipate the force of the reaction,” his report would create.

Boutis also understands that the incident caused serious concern for many of the 60 families whose children were in the Glen the day of the alarm. And he is most grateful for the professionalism and effectiveness the rest of the Glen staff and local authorities exhibited in the face of the perceived threat.

“However it plays out, the quality response our staff demonstrated in the face of a very concerning event was significant and powerful,” he said. “Now we’re left with the question, what would motivate someone to do this?”

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