Veteran fire official charged with molestation

February 28, 2008 4:03:58 PM PST
A former fire chief is the center of a child sex investigation, and police are stretching their investigation to the Jersey Shore.

Fifty-two-year-old Frank Venable of Flemington is the president and past chief of the Sergeantsville Volunteer Fire Company and treasurer of the Hunterdon County Fire Chief Association.

Even with 30-years experience, this is one fire he may not be able to put out.

Police have charged Venable, who runs a fire equipment supply company from his home, with sexually assaulting three boys between the ages of 12 and 16 beginning in 1997.

"He was molesting boys, at least three victims in various locations including his home, a victim's home and even his truck," said Sgt. Steve Jones of the New Jersey State Police.

"When you see this man, when you talk to him, he just doesn't seem that type," said Lorraine Fowler.

But the retired school teacher remembers an incident back in the 1980's involving Venable and pornography.

"Our son was old enough to be a Boy Scout at the time. That is when he had his first issue with the Boy Scouts, and it was for showing inappropriate movies to the kids," said Fowler.

"We haven't heard about him for over 25 years, so who knows what's happened in the span," said her husband, Don.

Venable's lawyer says the charges against him are false, but his neighbors are angry.

"Anyone who is a child molester should be put away for the rest of their lives so they can't hurt anyone else," said Sam Einstein.

Police have also expanded the investigation of Venable in Ocean County, in a effort to see if there may exist more victims in the Seaside Park area, where Venable would vacation.

Venable, who is not married and has no children, was held in the county jail on 150-thousand dollars bail.

Venable has a scheduled court appearance at 1:30pm on Friday.