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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Assistant AG Clarke: "This result is a testament to the courage of the victim who came forward"

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A former West Virginia firefighter and police officer was sentenced in Charleston federal court to 14 years in prison, five years of supervised release and registration as a sex offender under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Christopher Osborne, 26, admitted to violating a minor's civil rights by forcibly raping her in a bunk room at the Danville Fire Department, according to an Aug. 31 news release.

“This result is a testament to the courage of the victim who came forward to tell her story,” Justice Department Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in the release. “The Department of Justice will continue to seek justice for such victims, and to hold accountable perpetrators who abuse their authority to target the vulnerable.”

According to court documents, Osborne previously admitted to using his position, authority and status as an officer with the Marmet Police Department and a firefighter with both the Charleston Fire Department and the Danville Volunteer Fire Department to forcibly sexually assault the victim on or around the date of Jan. 18, 2021, the release reported. Osborne also admitted the victim said she did not want to have sex, but he assaulted her regardless, causing her pain and injury.

“The significant sentence imposed illustrates our strong commitment to prosecuting individuals who use their official authority to commit violent sexual assaults against minors,” West Virginia Southern District First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa G. Johnston said in the release. “Osborne’s unlawful conduct constitutes a clear deprivation of the minor’s civil rights. I commend the minor victim for the courage and strength she has demonstrated throughout this case. I thank the FBI, the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office for their outstanding efforts.”

“Mr. Osborne’s actions were inexcusable and appalling,” FBI Pittsburgh Field Division Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall said in the release. “The FBI will not stand by when people in positions of trust violate their oath and victimize innocent young children. Mr. Osborne abused his power and today’s sentence sends the message that we will continue to work to hold accountable public servants who fail the citizens of their community.”

The case was investigated by the FBI Pittsburgh Field Division and its Charleston resident agency, with the support of the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia Office of the State Fire Marshal, according to the release. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kathryn E. Gilbert of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Herrald and Julie White for the Southern District of West Virginia.

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