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5 women accuse cop of sexual harassment



Published: Fri, April 9, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

photo

Jeff Christy

By Jeanne Starmack

starmack@vindy.com

LOWELLVILLE

A Lowellville police officer who’s on leave after his indictment by a Mahoning County grand jury was the subject of sexual harassment complaints by five women, police records show.

Jeffrey Christy, 31, of Niles, was indicted March 31 on charges of menacing by stalking, gross sexual imposition and public indecency. He is free on his own recognizance.

The complaints are detailed in police reports from Lowellville and Milton Township, where Christy formerly worked as a reserve officer.

The complaints from Lowellville did not result in charges against Christy but are part of the case to show a pattern of conduct, said Milton Township Detective Sgt. Jeff Lewis, lead investigator in the case.

In Lowellville, complaints came from two 18-year-old women who said Christy tried to initiate sex with them at the King’s Motel in Coitsville Township on Feb. 3, 2009.

Those women, one from Lowellville and the other from Struthers, said they first met Christy when they came to the Lowellville station to file a report Jan. 26, 2009.

One of the women wanted to complain about telephone harassment, said Lewis.

A Lowellville police report dated Feb. 4, 2009, indicates the women complained Christy made sexual comments during that initial encounter.

Christy called Feb. 3 to give an update about their case, they said, and asked when they were going to get together “for a three-way.”

He found them that evening while they were shopping and suggested going to the motel, they told police.

As Christy checked in, the women went across the road to a convenience store. They called police, and a Coitsville officer escorted them to Lowellville to make statements.

The report says Christy did not deny trying to check into the motel with the women. He did deny making lewd comments at the police station.

Lowellville Police Chief William Vance told The Vindicator this week that the women’s stories were inconsistent and they did not want to press charges against Christy.

The report indicates that one of the women said she “just wants this to go away and not have any more contact with Jeff.” Chief Vance asked her to “sign a form to that effect.”

On Feb. 5, the woman signed a letter, typed by Sgt. Roger Vance, brother to the chief, that stated she would not take legal action against Christy or the village.

Two other complaints of stalking behavior came from women who encountered Christy in Milton Township, said Lewis. Christy worked for the township from Jan. 22, 2008, to July 1, 2009.

One of those women, Anita Persinger, 35, of Beloit, said she was harassed over a six-month period when she was pulled over “eight to 10 times.”

“I was in fear for a year before I did anything,” she said earlier this week. She filed her complaint in September 2009.

A home-health-care nurse, Persinger had to drive through Milton Township to visit a patient who lived in Craig Beach.

She first encountered Christy after he pulled alongside her car while she was stopped late one night in August 2008 at a gas station on Mahoning Avenue.

She said that after a brief conversation, he asked her about “friends with benefits.”

The report says Lewis did a LEADS system history check and found that Christy had run Persinger’s Social Security number that night.

Persinger said she tried changing vehicles, but Christy found her again.

She said that during one stop in November, Christy grabbed her by the back of the neck and forced her to kiss him.

She said that a few days later, he followed her on state Route 534 from Mahoning Avenue to U.S. Route 224.

Lewis said the fifth woman lives in Salem and knew Christy as her co-worker at a landscaping business.

The woman stated that in July 2006, Christy engaged in lewd conduct at a party in Austintown, he said.

Milton Township Chief Jeff Saltsman said that while Christy was being investigated, he resigned from that department.

Milton Township brought the charges to the Mahoning County prosecutor.

“We have to investigate one of our own,” Saltsman said.

Christy has worked part-time in Lowellville for two years, Chief Vance said.

He said he placed Christy on unpaid leave as soon as he was indicted.

“I feel bad for everybody — the victims,” Vance said.


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