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Camp counselor could be charged for false statement

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Click here to see the July 3 post on the witness’s false report.

Tremendous tax dollars were wasted during the search in the Glen last Thursday for an alleged armed man, who never existed, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said in an interview yesterday. The false testimony provided by an Eco Camp counselor that set in motion a pointless four-hour, multi-jurisdiction man hunt throughout the nature preserve and John Bryan Park also caused serious worry for many parents and those in charge of the youth in the Glen at the time.

“We don’t take these things lightly,” Fischer said. “It was a crime against the public.”

The Sheriff’s office is currently working with the Greene County Prosecutor to settle on the charges that will likely be brought against the counselor, whose name has not yet been released.

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. And it was only by routine measure that authorities called the counselor back on Wednesday to question him again and compare his statement with evidence police had gathered.

Fischer declined to specify the details of the police interview but described the typical interview process.

“We call in the person, compare notes from our road guys, and if there are inconsistencies in the stories, we ask him to clarify,” he said.

The camp counselor eventually confessed to having fabricated the story about the armed man in the Glen, an offense for which he could be charged with creating a false alarm. According to the Ohio Revised Code, false reports are often considered a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. If the false report causes economic harm, the charge may be classified as a fourth- or fifth-degree felony, punishable by six–12 months jail time.

The counselor was placed on administrative leave yesterday by the Glen and subsequently terminated from his position. 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 a lot of families. 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?”

Refer to next week’s issue of the Yellow Springs News for updates on the possible prosecution of the case.

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3 Responses to “Camp counselor could be charged for false statement”

  1. Tom Tennant says:

    I have to say, as a parent with a child who was in Eco Camp – and a parent that was four hours away in Cleveland – there should be some serious repercussions here. Beyond the horror and helplessness we felt being so far away, there were lots of little consequences, too. We left work for the day. We made countless calls to try to get more information on what was going on. We even pulled our son out of the last day of camp, so he didn’t get the full experience. Shouldn’t this counselor at least start with a big fat apology?

  2. Roger Warren says:

    I totally agree, John, he should have been terminated immediately. I also believe he should have to pay for the extra officers, their man hours and equipment use.

  3. John Burgdorf says:

    administrative leave? why does this individual still have a job?

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