Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith placed Sergeant Jimmy Childs on paid administrative leave Friday before the officer was arrested in connection to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office’s sweeping investigation into the Bellar family.
Smith said in a news release from the prosecutor’s office that his office will enlist an outside agency to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations levied against Childs once legal proceedings conclude.
“It has been my mission to restore the integrity of The Athens County Sheriff’s Office during my tenure, and we will continue to hold our deputies to a high ethical and professional standard,” Smith said in a statement. “There are no allegations of wrongdoing against this office or any other deputy. We will continue to be open, honest and forthcoming with this investigation.”
In a phone call, the Sheriff declined to comment any further.
“I’m proud of the working relationship our office has with Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith,” Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in a statement. “Sheriff Smith should be commended for his open communication with us in this matter. Our job is to protect the public regardless of the popularity of any charging decision or resolution of a case. This job requires someone to equally and fairly pursue justice on behalf of the people of Ohio and I am extremely dedicated to that responsibility.”
Childs was charged on Friday with obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies. The officer was alleged to have deleted a phone call with Robert Bellar, Serah Bellar’s indicted father, who is believed to have a close relationship with the officer, and provided false information during the course of the prosecutor’s investigation into the family’s alleged history of concealing sexual and physical abuse within their household.
The officer was booked into Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail on Friday around 8 p.m. and was released about 11:30 p.m. after somebody posted a $20,000 bond on his behalf, jail Deputy Warden Jeremy Tolson said.