Deputy Accused Of Obstructing Justice In Sexual Abuse Case Makes First Court Appearance

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — An Athens County sheriff sergeant made his first court appearance Monday following his arrest last week on two felony charges.

Jimmy Childs, 52, is facing charges of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice in relation to sexual abuse charges against members of the Bellar family.

Jimmy Childs.
Jimmy Childs.

Childs is accused of deleting a record of a phone call with Robert Bellar during the execution of a search warrant last week after indictments were filed against four members of the Bellar family, according to Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn.

Childs also allegedly failed to notify a supervisor of the telephone call until after his phone was seized, deleted Robert Bellar’s contact from his phone and made a false statement during the investigation.

Childs was placed on paid administrative leave prior to his arrest on Friday.

Judge Todd Grace scheduled a preliminary hearing for June 1 at 2 p.m, during which the judge will review evidence against Childs. Childs did not enter a plea Monday, but he denied events described by one of the Bellar’s daughters, who has suggested that he was working with the family.

Eight supporters of Childs and three journalists formed a small crowd outside the brick building that houses the courtroom Monday morning, watching the proceeding through Zoom on their cell phones. They were not allowed inside the building due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Childs, whose work with the sheriff’s office includes serving as a school resource officer, posted a $21,000 bail over the weekend, according to Southeast Ohio Regional Jail records.

Robert Bellar, 54, and his wife, Deborah, 49, were indicted last Tuesday on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and endangering children. A son, Josiah, 24, was charged with three counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition involving two of his sisters. Another son, Jonathan, 26, was charged with gross sexual imposition.

After Childs’ court appearance, he met with his family and friends outside. His mother, who is dealing with onset dementia at her home in Athens, frantically called to speak to her son.

“Thirty years of good work and then this happens,” Childs mumbled to no one in particular. 

Many of Childs’ supporters believe he is being targeted by Blackburn. They wonder why other institutions responsible for the wellbeing of the Bellar children, including the school system and Athens County Children Services, aren’t also being investigated.

Aaron Thomas, a friend of Childs, said he believes the investigation should be handled by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost rather than the Athens County prosecutor.

Childs said his lawyer, George Gerken, advised him to remain silent but said he is “trying to cooperate as much as I can” and should have done that on Friday with his phone.