Garden City fire chief charged with sexual abuse


Stephen Harvey Ohls (Cullman County Sheriff's Office)

Updated 3-7-19 at 3:50 p.m.

GARDEN CITY, Ala. – The chief of the Garden City Volunteer Fire Department has been charged with second-degree sexual abuse. Stephen Harvey Ohls, 63, was arrested on Wednesday, March 6.

According to the Cullman County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), investigators obtained a warrant for Ohls' arrest "due to the belief there was sexual contact between the suspect and a juvenile. Ohls had an association with the victim before the crime occurred."

Ohls was arrested for second-degree sexual abuse, which is a Class A misdemeanor.

Garden City Mayor Tim Eskew said Ohls has been placed on administrative leave and that assistant chief James Johnson has been named acting fire chief in Ohls' absence. He said Johnson planned to meet with the rest of the fire department Thursday night.

"The CCSO would like to thank DHR and Brooks' Place for their assistance in this case," said a statement from the sheriff's office.

Ohls has made bond.

Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-6-67

(a) A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the second degree if:

(1) He subjects another person to sexual contact who is incapable of consent by reason of some factor other than being less than 16 years old;  or

(2) He, being 19 years old or older, subjects another person to sexual contact who is less than 16 years old, but more than 12 years old.

(b) Sexual abuse in second degree is a Class A misdemeanor, except that if a person commits a second or subsequent offense of sexual abuse in the second degree within one year of another sexual offense, the offense is a Class C felony.

This is a developing story.

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