High-Ranking N.J. Fire Official Charged with Child Molestation


 
 

Ralph R. Ortega | | Friday, February 29, 2008


HUNTERDON COUNTY, N.J. -- A high-ranking fire official and businessman in Hunterdon County, N.J., was arrested Tuesday on child sex molestation charges, according to the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office.

Frank Venable, 52, of Flemington is charged with assaulting an unspecified number of victims, mostly in their early teens, in Kingwood, Delaware Township and Flemington, "over a period of years," said Deputy Chief of Detectives Dan Hurley, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Hurley declined to give specific dates, say how many children allegedly were attacked or give the victims' gender. He also declined to say how Venable allegedly gained access to the children.

"The investigation is ongoing with the possibility of additional victims," he said.

Venable, a firefighter for three decades, is a past chief in the Sergeantsville Volunteer Fire Company, current treasurer for the Hunterdon County Fire Chiefs Association and owner of a fire-equipment supply company.

"If it's all true, it's horrific, it's unbelievable," said Scott Wintermute, fire chief for the Town of Clinton, and one of several firefighters and officials stunned by Venable's arrest.

Venable was charged with a second-degree count and three third-degree counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and two counts of third-degree sexual contact, according to Hurley. He said Venable also faces one charge of second-degree sexual assault and one charge of third-degree soliciting prostitution.

Detectives, Hurley said, arrested Venable at his business, Delaware Valley Fire Equipment in Flemington, after a six-week investigation by the prosecutor's office's sex crimes unit and State Police from the Kingwood barracks.

He was being held in the Hunterdon County Jail last night in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Authorities learned of the alleged molestation when a victim came forward, Hurley said. That youth's story led to the identification of other children who were attacked, he said.

Hurley credited detectives in the joint investigation and called it a step in bringing "some relief to the victims who have been suffering for years."

A man answering Venable's home and business phone lines yesterday declined to comment.

Wintermute said Venable was immediately suspended from his position in the fire chiefs association, where he also had been chairman of the radio committee.

Venable held various posts on the Sergeantsville Fire Company, according to its website, including fire chief in 1998 and 2001. He is currently listed as the company's president. Venable also is a member of the Raritan Township Fire Department, where he was a trustee in the early 1990s, and a former member of the Hunterdon County Emergency Medical Services Squad Chiefs Association.

"Frank has been involved in emergency services for many years, and is very dedicated to the community," said Jeff Herzog, a former president for the squad chiefs association.

Herzog was taken aback by news of Venable's arrest.

"I'm not sure what happened," he said. "It's very shocking."

Sergeantsville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Sean Conway called the arrest "very disturbing." He said he could not comment further.

Ralph R. Ortega may be reached at rortega@starledger.com or (908) 429-9925.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Legal and Ethical

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Shooting Inside Pennsylvania Hospital

Early reports of one person dead in Darby hospital.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Anchorage Chief Proposes Shifting Fire, Medic Crews

Officials debate ways to reduce paramedic burnout.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Kansas City Woman Thanks EMTs Who Saved Her Life

CPR save highlights community awareness program
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

University of Pittsburgh STAAMP Trial

Trauma experts launch tranexamic acid trial.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Moscow Subway MCI

At least 20 dead and 150 injured in subway derailment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On July 2014

Check out the latest products and innovations in JEMS.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >