Liberty firefighter charged with sex with teen

By Jeanne Starmack


A part-time firefighter with the Liberty Township Fire Department is in Mahoning County jail on a charge of unlawful sexual contact with a minor.

Jackson Township Police charged Jesse L. Culbertson, 30, of Arbor Circle, over a relationship with a 16-year-old girl.

The relationship occurred in 2013, a police report indicates.

The girl, who would have been 15 at the time, lives in North Jackson.

The girl’s mother told police last month her daughter revealed the relationship after contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

The girl’s mother told police there was evidence that Culbertson would pick up her daughter from school and that she had been “sneaking around,” according to the police report.

The investigating officer contacted Culbertson to come in for an interview at the police station Tuesday, the report says.

Culbertson admitted knowing the girl, saying they met through “social media,” the report says.

Culbertson admitted having sex with the girl, once at her parents’ house and also at his home in Liberty Township after he picked her up from school, the report says.

The investigating officer asked Culbertson if there were other girls, and he said “no.” The officer seized Culbertson’s cellphone and “in plain view was an Internet app feed with a photo of a female child,” the report says.

The officer took Culbertson to the county jail. His arraignment was Wednesday in Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown.

His bond was set at $10,000, or 10 percent of $100,000 cash surety, and he remained at the jail late Friday.

Michael Durkin, Liberty fire chief, said the fire department will not call Culbertson out to work pending the outcome of the case. As a part-time employee, he is only paid when he’s called out and he receives no benefits.

If he is found guilty, township trustees can act to fire him, Durkin said. If he is acquitted, he could return to work, he said.

Durkin said Culbertson has been with the department for 10 months and has been a township resident for three months. He also works part time for the Lakemore Fire Department near Akron, Durkin said.

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