State fire official faces underage sex abuse charge


John A. Metheny Sr.

HARTLY — A local and state fire company official was arrested Wednesday after sexual abuse of a minor allegations, the Delaware State Police said.

John A. Metheny Sr., 72, of Hartly, was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child after turning himself in to Troop 3 detectives in Camden, authorities said on Thursday.

Attempts to reach Mr. Metheny and the Delaware Volunteer Firefighter’s Association Thursday were unsuccessful.

According to a police detective in an affidavit of probable cause, Mr. Metheny allegedly confessed on Tuesday post-Miranda to improper physical contact with the girl. He estimated six to eight interactions, authorities claimed, and perhaps as many as 10.

The Hartly Volunteer Fire Company, where Mr. Metheny currently serves as vice president, released a statement after police announced the arrest.

“The Hartly Volunteer Fire Company became aware that Mr. Metheny was charged by law enforcement of committing a felony on (Wednesday),” President Robert E. Quillen Jr. said.

“Following our established policy, he has been suspended awaiting the action of the court.”

According to police in a news release, a 17-year-old female accused Mr. Metheny, the Hartly VFC’s vice president, of groping her buttocks and breast several times when they were at different places. The girl told police told authorities that she expressed displeasure after each alleged incident and told him to stop.

The girl reported her concerns to police on May 15, authorities said, and claimed the alleged sexual assaults had been ongoing since November 2016. Some alleged incidents occurred when the two were alone at the Hartly Fire Company at 2898 Arthursville Road, the girl told investigators.

Police did not disclose why the girl spent time at the fire station and said only limited details would be released due to “the sensitivity of this case, and in consideration of the (alleged) victim.”

Mr. Metheny was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 11 in New Castle and released on a $30,000 unsecured bond. A preliminary hearing in Kent County Court of Common Pleas was scheduled for June 16 at 8:30 a.m.

The allegations detailed

According to the affidavit, the girl first expressed her concerns to a municipal police department, who then contacted state police.

In papers, a detective recounted an interview on May 15 when the girl supposedly said, “He would always put his arm around her but she never thought anything of this.”

According to the juvenile, however, the contact allegedly moved to her buttocks and breast.

“At first she didn’t say no because she was scared so she would just move away from him,” the affidavit read.

“He wouldn’t touch her again until he saw her again.”

The minor claimed she told Mr. Metheny to stop and “he would leave her alone for awhile then he would start touching her again.”

In February, according to the girl, she told Mr. Metheny “she wasn’t comfortable with this and she didn’t want him touching her because it made her feel weird. He stopped touching her until April.”

Finally, according to the minor, Mr. Metheny allegedly touched her again and she warned if it happened again she would tell police. The girl went to authorities “anyway because she felt really scared,” according to court papers.

According to the juvenile, the alleged contact occurred an estimated four or five times before she told the man to stop, then approximately 10 to 11 times from November 2016 to February.

Police said in papers that the girl “stated he would always touch her over her clothes,” The affidavit indicated some alleged contact supposedly happened in a vehicle.

Mr. Metheny allegedly responded “OK” when asked to stop in February.

The alleged contacts ceased, according to the minor in the affidavit, but resumed in April in a storage room.

A biography on the Hartly VFC’s website described Mr. Metheny as “responsible for the overall building maintenance and oversees the trustees. In the past Allen has held virtually every position in the company to include Fire Chief and Ambulance Captain.”

Mr. Metheny currently serves as treasurer for the DVFA and Hartly VFC, and director of the National Volunteer Fire Council.

He’s a past president of the DVFA, Delaware State Fire Chief’s Association and the Del-Mar-Va Volunteer Firemen’s Association, and has instructed at the Delaware State Fire School since 1970. His bio described him as a Certified Government Finance Manager.

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