GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Cascade Township firefighter and former township clerk is facing criminal charges related to an alleged sexual relationship with a teen girl.
Clem Harold Bell, 51, is charged in Kent County’s 63rd District Court with child sexually abusive activity, possession of child sexually abusive material and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime.
Investigators say Clem had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl dating back to April 2016. They say the teen admitted to the relationship and that she and Bell exchanged sexual pictures via phone, according to a probable cause document.
Through multiple search warrants, investigators found the alleged sexual pictures on Bell’s cellphone, court records show. Investigators also say they found evidence that Bell had captured a screen grab from the device, which they say shows Bell intended to preserve the image.
Bell is one of two paid on-call Cascade Township firefighters who have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. The name of the other firefighter has not been released.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious count of child sexually abusive activity. He would also have to register as a sex offender.
“We were shocked and saddened to learn about the extremely inappropriate alleged conduct of Clem Bell while he was a township employee. He was suspended at the onset of the investigation and has since resigned his position with the Fire Department and is no longer an employee,” Cascade Township Supervisor Rob Beahan said in a Monday statement. “Our full-time firefighters are hardworking professionals who share our dismay over the alleged behavior of their now former colleague.”
Beahan also said the township is conducting its own investigation into the fire department. As part of that investigation, the department’s Explorers program has been suspended.
Along with being a Cascade Township firefighter, Bell is a former township clerk. He was appointed to the position in March 2016 and ran to fill the position on a permanent basis. However, he was defeated in the August 2016 Republican primary.