A West Virginia former official pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a 16-year-old victim by forcibly raping her in a bunk room at the Danville Fire Department in Danville, West Virginia. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Lisa G. Johnston for the Southern District of West Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall of the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office made the announcement.
During the plea hearing in federal court in the Southern District of West Virginia, Christopher Osborne, 26, admitted that on or about Jan. 19, 2021, while he was an officer with the Marmet Police Department in Marmet, West Virginia, and a firefighter with both the Charleston Fire Department in Charleston, West Virginia, and the Danville Volunteer Fire Department, he used his position, authority and status as a firefighter to forcibly sexually assault the victim. Specifically, Osborne admitted that the victim told him that she did not want to have sex, but he held her down inside the bunk room at the fire station and sexually assaulted her anyway, causing her pain and bodily injury.
“The defendant abused his official authority and position of power to perpetrate a violent sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke. “Officials who carry out sexual assaults on vulnerable people will be held accountable. The Civil Rights Division will continue to use our criminal civil rights laws to stand up for the survivors of these heinous crimes.”
“As the plea in this case demonstrates, Osborne used his official authority to commit a violent sexual assault on a 16-year-old victim,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Johnston. “Osborne’s unlawful conduct constitutes a clear deprivation of the minor’s civil rights. Such an egregious abuse of power will not be tolerated. We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stand up for victims of such crimes. I want to thank the FBI, the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office for their outstanding investigative efforts in this case.”
“The facts of this case are troubling,” said Special Agent in Charge Nordwall. “No one is not above the law. As a public servant, Osborne violated his oath and victimized those he swore to protect. The FBI will not look the other way.”
With his guilty plea, the defendant faces a 14-year prison sentence, with a maximum of five years of supervised release, and registration as a sex offender under the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
A sentencing date has been set for July 13.
This case was investigated by the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI with the support of the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia State Fire Marshals. It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kathryn E. Gilbert of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Rada Herrald and Julie White for the Southern District of West Virginia.