Explorer Program Sex Scandal Leads to Departure of MI Chief and Deputy Chief

A fire chief has retired and a deputy chief was terminated in the aftermath of a sex scandal in the Cascade Township (MI) Fire Department that led to criminal charges against two other firefighters.

Fire Chief John Sigg retired and Deputy Fire Chief John Shipley was terminated last Friday by Cascade Township Manager Ben Swayze following a review into the department’s Explorer program. Swayze told reporters that the review found deficiencies in policies and procedures within the program.

Earlier this year, firefighters Clem Bell, 51, and Steven Drake, 32, were charged with felony child sexually abusive activity and possession of child sexually abusive material. They reportedly had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl who was part of the Explorer program. Bell is accused of producing child sexually abusive material of the girl.

Here is more on the story.

Here is more on the criminal charges.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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