WAXAHACHIE (CBSDFW.COM) – The scandal consuming an Ellis County volunteer fire department is growing. Two additional firefighters, Chief Gavin Satterfield and Assistant Chief William Getzendaner, have been arrested in connection with the aggravated sexual assault of a new recruit at the fire station in January.
The two chiefs bonded out of the Ellis County jail Thursday afternoon, but weren’t talking.
The arrest warrant affidavits say the two chiefs warned five volunteer firefighters not to say a word after watching cell phone video of them sexually assaulting the recruit with a broomstick, then a chorizo-sausage.
On Thursday night, the board of commissioners of Emergency Services District No. 6, which oversees the ESD 6 volunteer fire department, held an emergency meeting to discuss the charges.
During a prayer before the meeting, one of the commissioners said the board was shocked by the allegations. Ellis County residents like Connie Slay said, “It’s really sad to know this is going on in our community, in our small towns.”
Court documents say in a private meeting with the five firefighters and the victim together, Getzendaner, the assistant chief said, “The victim could do something to ‘us’ and (then) looked at the victim and said, ‘But you’re not going to.'”
The arrest affidavit says Getzendaner told all of them “to keep the knowledge of the sexual assault in-house, delete the video, and keep their mouths shut…” But the cell phone video was not deleted, and while the victim did keep quiet for more than two months, he did report the incident March 31.
The Texas Rangers began investigating at the request of the Ellis County District Attorney.
The department has 25 volunteer firefighters, but with seven members arrested, the department is relying on mutual aid agreements with neighboring cities, including Waxahachie, Red Oak, Maypearl, and Midlothian.
Now, one man who says he used to serve in the volunteer fire department in District 6, says there has been hazing going on in the department for quite some time. The former volunteer firefighter, who wishes to remain anonymous, says some of the volunteers were being punched.
The former volunteer member says he left the department 18 months ago, after alerting a board member about the problem. But he claims nothing was done.
Slay, whose father is a former firefighter, said, “They know in their heart what’s right and they need to do the right thing and they don’t need to be leaders in the community if they’re going to commit crimes like this. They’re supposed to protect people, not hurt people.”
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