The following stories were the top ten most read pieces from The Athens Messenger website from March. 1 through June 30, 2021. A majority of the stories listed chronicle the ongoing Bellar family case for the abuse of Sarah Bellar.

1. Athens County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jimmy Childs arrested in connection to Bellar investigation

Jimmy Childs, a Sheriff’s Sgt. with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested on May 21, 2021 on two third-degree felonies, obstruction of justice and tampering of evidence.

The evidence in question was record of a phone call made to Childs by Robert Bellar, who at the time was on the run after an indictment was filed on him and three other members of the Bellar family. Childs then provided false information to the investigators.

Childs had worked with the department for over 30 years, even spending time as the resource officer for both Federal-Hocking School District and Alexander School District.

2. Sheriff’s Sergeant appears to have close connection with indicted member of Bellar family

The piece outlined the connections between Athens County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jimmy Childs and Deborah and Robert Bellar, the parents of Serah Bellar who were indicted by ACSO for her abuse.

Indictment documents mention Childs multiple times, including in reference to a recorded phone call from prison between Robert Bellar and his son Josiah Bellar in which he stated that he believed Childs “has their back.”

The indictment further stated that Serah Bellar believed that Childs, who was the resource officer at Federal-Hocking Schools where she attended, was informing the Bellar’s of her location during the time she was removed from their custody. Sarah Bellar further sight out Childs’ help when she was being harassed by members of her family at the Athens County Fair. His only intervention was to tell the offenders to stop.

One of the reasons for her initial flight from Athens County was due to her fear of Childs, according to Serah Bellar.

Reporters did eventually find photos of Childs posing with members of the Bellar family in a comical manner posted on Facebook.

Childs denied all allegations, saying he did not remember the incident at the fairgrounds and never approached her when working at her school.

3. Four members of missing teen Bellar’s family arrested on abuse, rape charges

Robert and Deborah Bellar, along with two of their sons, were handed down a litany of charges in connection to the sexual abuse of their daughter, Sarah Bellar.

Robert, 54, and Deborah, 49, were charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony, and two charges of endangering children, both third-degree felonies.

Josiah Bellar, who was already incarcerated on unrelated charges, was indicted on three counts of rape, each first-degree felonies, and two counts of gross sexual imposition, both fourth-degree felonies. His brother, Jonathan, was accused of gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felon.

4. County prosecutor confirms Facebook poster is missing teenager Serah Bellar

The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that the author of a Facebook post outlining abuse in the Bellar home was indeed Serah Bellar who had been missing since April 2020.

In the post, the author states that she left the area of her own free will to escape abuse by members of her family.

Athens County Sheriff’s Office made contact with Bellar and confirmed that she was safe after contacting her by phone and verifying her identity.

Concerning the allegations made in the post itself, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn stated that they would be looking into the matter.

5. Dove Outreach church minister, congregation member, deny “cult” accusations in Bellar case

James “Jim” Bellar, the self proclaimed minister of Dove Outreach church, denied allegations made by his niece, Serah Bellar, regarding a cult like following within his congregation which were outlined in the indictments against her parents and two of her brothers.

Jim Bellar was named in the criminal case as Serah Bellar stated that while preaching to his flock, which included her family and a small group of others, he encouraged acts of incest among members of the family.

Court documents went on to say that Jim Bellar would encourage procreation among siblings to prepare for the end of the world.

The minister has denied all such claims while stating he is in fact retranslating parts of the Bible.

Congregation member Valerie Trainer stated her gratitude for his retranslation, calling Jim Bellar, “an apostle.” She also stated that she had not heard the minster preaching about incestuous relationships and that she had never seen Robert or Deborah Bellar abuse their children.

6. Missing Athens County teen escapes reported sex abuse, ‘cult’-like family

Serah Bellar speaks candidly about her experiences living in her home with Robert and Deborah Bellar along with her 17 siblings, a home she says was overrun with various forms of abuse.

According to Serah Bellar, her brothers would routinely sexually abuse their younger siblings, abuse which the parents were aware of and encouraged.

The family attended Dove Outreach church, run by Jim Bellar, where he preached the need for siblings to procreate in order to survive the end of the world.

Athens County Prosecutor’s Office became aware of two separate reports of the abuse made to Athens County Children Services in February 2017 and April 2020. Another report was filed when Ohio State Highway Patrol officers stopped Serah Bellar on U.S. Route 50 when she was attempting to run away. She was returned to the custody of her mother.

After the incident, Serah Bellar was put into foster care but was continually harassed by members of her family. This further pushed her to flee the area. She fled to Georgia and lived with a couple she met while online gaming. The pair, Jerry and Shayna Chadwick, have been arrested for charges stemming from their own sexual abuse of Serah Bellar.

7. Uptown Athens ‘altercation’ leaves one dead early Saturday morning

A then unidentified person died after an altercation took place in Uptown Athens during the final weekend of May 2021.

The incident took place in a parking lot off of Court Street just north of Washington Street. The unidentified individual was taken to O’Bleness hospital but died of their injuries on Saturday, May 29, 2021.

8. County authorities investigating alleged social media post of missing teenager

Athens County Prosecutor’s and Sheriff’s Offices announced that they would be investigating the post allegedly made by then missing Amesville teenager Serah Bellar.

Serah, at the time going by the screen name Deliah Rose Price, made a lengthy post explaining her disappearance and outlining the abuse she suffered at the hands of her family.

This post is what began the entire investigation the led to the arrest of Robert, Deborah, Josiah, and Jonathan Bellar.

9. Plains woman arrested with enough fentanyl to kill nearly 30,000

Shannon M. Dickens, 41-year-old resident of The Plains, was arrested in late April 2021 and found to have in her possession a few ounces of methamphetamine and a large amount of fentanyl.

According to the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, the amount of fentanyl recovered from the arrest could kill the entire City of Athens.

She was charged with three counts of trafficking in drugs, three counts of possession of drugs, one count trafficking in drugs and one count of possession of drugs.

10. Guysville man arrested for manslaughter after death in Shade

Justin Pennington, 35 of Guysville, was charged with involuntary manslaughter following an assault on 59-year-old Blade Sharpe.

After the assault while family members performed life saving measures on Sharpe, Pennington fled into the woods.

He was arrested two hours later on June 13 by deputies of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office.

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