Trial of Former Fire Chief Accused of Rape Begins this Week

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The former Steubenville fire chief accused of sexually abusing a young family member repeatedly is finally going to trial.  The nearly 70-year-old John Mencer rejected all offers from the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office to try to resolve this case without putting the 7-year-old through the trauma of a trial.

Mencer was arrested for rape almost a year in a half ago in the spring of 2015.  After procedural issues, several motions, and a mental evaluation of the defendant, the trial starts Wednesday.  Monday, Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Michelle Miller says she will decide if the child will be testifying via closed circuit TV or directly on the stand after she talks to him herself. The child is coming in from California and is eligible to testify via TV if he is too fearful of the defendant.

“We are looking forward to trial. Certainly, a trial where the evidence depends largely on a victim this young, certainly, makes you nervous. We just hope this victim is able to come into court and confront the accused with the terrible things this man did to him,” said assistant prosecutor Jeff Bruzzese.

These alleged crimes happened between June and August of 2014 when the child was 5 years old.  

The victims mother as well as various law enforcement officers will be testifying on behalf of the state.  Jury selection begins Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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