Ex-Firefighter Charged With Sexually Assaulting Teen, Burning Woman's Home

Firefighter Cop Civil Rights Rape Arson DOJ
Christopher Osborne was charged with federal civil rights offenses in Charleston, West Virginia on Tuesday. This undated file photo shows a man standing while wearing handcuffs. ancoay/Getty

A former firefighter from West Virginia is facing civil rights charges after allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl and setting fire to the home of an adult woman.

A federal grand jury indicted Christopher Osborne, 25, Tuesday in Charleston on charges of deprivation of rights under color of law—meaning the alleged crimes were committed while he was on duty, witness tampering and using fire to commit a felony, according to a release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Osborne was suspended without pay from his job as a part-time Marmet Police Department officer after facing state charges over the allegations earlier this year. It was not clear whether he was still officially employed as a police officer as of Wednesday, although he has been fired from two different West Virginia fire departments.

Tuesday's indictment alleges that Osborne committed "aggravated sexual abuse, attempted aggravated sexual abuse, kidnapping and attempted kidnapping" while assaulting his minor victim and causing her "bodily injury" in January of this year.

Osborne also allegedly "knowingly engaged in misleading conduct toward investigators with the intent to hinder a federal investigation by falsely denying engaging in any sexual contact or sexual act with his 16-year-old victim."

The DOJ release did not include much information about Osborne's alleged adult victim, although it did state that she is 49-years old. Osborne allegedly used fire as he "destroyed the property and dwelling" of the woman in November 2019 "without lawful jurisdiction."

Earlier this year, West Virginia State Police said Osborne had been charged with two counts of second-degree sexual assault. His alleged victim told troopers that she had been raped in the bunk room of the Danville Volunteer Fire Department.

Osborne was quickly dismissed by the Danville Fire Department. He was also fired from the Charleston Fire Department, where he had been a probationary firefighter.

"Very shocking to us, we never figured anything like that would happen here," Danville Fire Chief Justin Chafin told NBC affiliate WSAZ after the state charges were filed. "It's never happened here that I know of, I've been here for (over) twenty years (and) nothing like this has ever happened inside the fire station.

"We fully dismissed [Osborne] from the department. He's no longer a member here or associated with us or anything so we have nothing else with him," added Chafin. "We're very saddened to hear about it, very sympathetic and saddened toward the victim and her family. We just hope the restitution can come through the court system."

Osborne was booked into South Central Regional Jail in Charleston on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Newsweek reached out to the DOJ for comment.