Athens County Sheriff Sergeant Jimmy Childs was arrested Friday night in connection to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office’s sweeping investigation into the Bellar family.
Childs, also the Athens County school resource officer, was charged with obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies, according to booking records from the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail where he is being held.
Athens County investigators executed a search warrant in Pike County on Thursday where they recovered the cell phone of Robert Bellar, the indicted father of Serah Bellar who, along with his wife, was charged with a number of felonies related to reports of abetting sexual and physical abuse against children within their household.
On Friday, investigators executed a search warrant on the phone in Athens County, and accused Childs of deleting evidence of a phone call he had with Robert and providing false information during the course of the prosecutor’s investigation, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said.
He was arrested around 6:30 p.m. in Athens and transported to the jail by Nelsonville Police Department, Blackburn said.
The prosecutor said the Sheriff’s Office was not involved in the investigation but that Sheriff Rodney Smith was cooperative.
Smith declined to comment about the arrest of Childs, but said his office would release a statement on Monday.
Childs is set to appear in Athens County Municipal Court at 9:00 a.m. Monday.
The Athens Messenger reported Wednesday that both Robert and Serah Bellar were of the belief that Childs was running interference on behalf of the Bellar family, indictment documents and interviews show.
In a recorded prison phone call between Robert and his incarcerated son Josiah Bellar, Robert says that Childs “loved (the Bellar’s) and he has their back,” according to court documents.
Serah Bellar, whose cooperation with the prosecutor’s office led to the arrests of her parents and two brothers, listed a fear of Childs as a reason for fleeing from her home in April 2020.
Serah knew Childs through his roles as a Federal Hocking Schools resource officer and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office’s “Explorers” program, where children work alongside law enforcement and participate in volunteer opportunities.
After being placed in the foster system in Athens County, Serah was asked in school by Childs where she was living. The first time Childs asked about her living situation, she stated she was living with a foster family. When asked again after Childs claimed he had forgotten, Serah declined to answer, fearful that he would relay her address to the other Bellar family members who she was trying to avoid, court documents show.
She was also reportedly harassed by family members during an Explorers event at The Athens County Fairgrounds when Childs said he couldn’t do anything about it. The Bellar parents were volunteer administrators of the program.
Smith and Childs denied knowledge of the events described and comments made within the documents.
Childs, who has been with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office for over 30 years, often places in The Athens NEWS Readers’ Choice Awards law enforcement officer category.