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Evans Mills fire chief arrested on sex charges

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The Evans Mills fire chief has been arrested on three felony charges accusing him of having a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.

Shawn R. Rutmanis, 42, town of Philadelphia, was charged Tuesday afternoon by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department with first-degree criminal sexual act, third-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree sexual abuse.

According to a news release, Mr. Rutmanis is accused of having sex with the girl over a seven-month period when she was 15 and 16 years old.

The arrest was the culmination of a two-month investigation by the Sheriff’s Department detective division after the girl made a complaint, Investigator Judy G. Goodman said.

The girl is not involved in the fire department, she said. The incidents allegedly occurred in an Eagle Avenue residence that Mr. Rutmanis owns.

Investigators used a controlled phone call between the victim and the fire chief to verify the relationship, Ms. Goodman said.

Fire Commissioner Thomas F. Newberry said Wednesday that the department has been unable to contact the fire chief and talk to him about the situation.

It will be up to the fire commissioners to decide what action will be taken against the chief, but they need to get all of the facts regarding the situation first, Mr. Newberry said.

“It came as a total surprise to all of us on this end,” he said. “I don’t know much and the fire commissioners are working diligently to get to the bottom of this. Action will be taken at some point.”

Mr. Rutmanis was arraigned in Philadelphia Town Court by Judge Jessie M. Scheer, who set bail at $500. The Jefferson County district attorney’s office had requested $30,000 bail.

Mr. Rutmanis posted bail and is awaiting grand jury action, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Mr. Newberry said the same level of fire protection will be maintained for the community, with the department’s fire assistants assuming more of a leadership role.

Mr. Rutmanis, a member of the fire department for about seven years, was appointed chief in January.

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