Chief Ralph Harris of Charlton Fire Dept. - Where's your resignation?

Posted in the Ashland Forum

Shocked and Confused

Worcester, MA

#1 Sep 12, 2006
I've been reading the stories that have broken over the coviction of the Charlton firefighter Jeffrey Belmore.

I have some serious questions for the chief of this department. What's the deal? In both articles that you have been quoted in, you state different positions!

From the August 3rd article you state:

Yesterday, however, Chief Harris said he found out about the charges “after the fact,” through a third party. Chief Harris said he checked with the town’s lawyer and was told Mr. Belmore could continue working because the alleged offenses “didn’t happen while he was a member of this department,” and because he hasn’t been convicted of a crime.

Yesterday's article states:

The Charlton Fire Department hired Mr. Belmore during summer 2003, and he had been forthright about the pending charges during his candidacy, Chief Ralph W. Harris said in an interview yesterday.

“He was a good worker,” Chief Harris said.“He’s got a couple of citations. We had no problems with him; very good worker.”

Asked if Mr. Belmore’s tenure brought uneasiness to the department, Chief Harris said,“We pretty much went along the feeling … he was innocent until proven guilty. Now he’s been proven guilty. That’s the end of the story.”

Mr. Belmore resigned via e-mail, the chief said.

“He didn’t go into detail,” he said.“Everybody knows why. I don’t think he had to explain it again.”

Guess what, Chief? I highly doubt that this is the end of the story as far as you're concered! In fact, how about some answers?

Which way was it? Did this firefighter admit to you that he had this matter before him when he was interviewing for your department? Or did you find out "after the fact" and through a third party?

What would possess you to hire a firefighter that had been accused of such serious offences? Where is your sense of obligation for safety in relation to the general public? I, as a public citizen, am outraged to think that if I needed medical attention from the fire department, could have been treated by this person AND WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE!

We are taught as children if we are in danger and need help, go find and/or talk to a fireman! How many children did you put at risk for your decision? Or was it your thought process that "he may have been innocent" that out weighed that risk?

Finally, why wasn't he fired immediately last Friday, when the jury came back with the guilty verdict? What was the delay? And why was he allowed to resign by email?

Chief, these are seious questions and I believe that the public deserves some serious answers.

Maybe you should be next to submit your resignation via email!

How come our town fathers have been silent during this?

Anon from Southbridge

Somerville, MA

#2 Sep 15, 2006
I'm not a resident of Charlton, and I have no connection to this episode. However, I too am shocked that a fire chief would hire an individual who was under indictment for the rape of a child. Wouldn't there be some doubt as to the "moral character" of the candidate?? Was he truly the best candidate available?? It is an amazing story; and what's really amazing is the lack of a response from town officials.
There are rumors flying around that another member of the Charlton department has a scary history...has anyone looked into this??
impartial observer

United States

#3 Sep 15, 2006
Yeah, it kinda blows me away, too. I have some friends who are firemen, they tell me that there is practically a waiting list to get on the force....So how is it that this town decided to take someone who, at the very least, was going to be spending an indefinite amount of time with a HUGE problem to deal with, requiring time off, etc.

And in the worst case scenario, as it turned out, they had hired a child molester and now the whole department has egg on its face....
Anon from Framingham

Cambridge, MA

#4 Sep 20, 2006
I wish ONE PERSON involved in this would stand up and take resposibility their actions! Or at the very least, try to justify it!

But apparently, they don't acknowledge accountability in the town of Charlton!
impartial observer

United States

#5 Sep 20, 2006
If you read all the stories, the chief says he knew and that he hired Belmore based on the premise that we are all innocent till proven guilty. I guess that's the best you're going to get as far as having someone take responsibility.

I think maybe the town of Charlton could still be seeking an "apology"....but good luck with that. I doubt it will be forthcoming.

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