CASCADE TWP., Mich. — A former Cascade Township firefighter will be heading to trial, accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl and exchanging sexually explicit photos with her. Prosecutors say on Clem Bell waived his preliminary hearing on Wednesday, which sent the case against him moving forward.
Bell was arrested in January after investigators found child porn on his computer at a fire station in December. Police say he had sex with a teenager who was part of the fire department’s Explorers Program and exchanged sexually charged photos with her. Investigators say he saved some of those images on a device for future use.
During text conversations with the girl, Bell allegedly said that he wanted to leave the country with her and that he was in a “depressed state.”
Bell, a married father of two, faces up to 20 years in prison. He resigned from the department following his arrest.
One month after Bell’s arrest, another member of that department was taken into custody.
Steven Drake, who was an on-call firefighter for the department, is accused of having sex with that same 16-year-old girl. Police say the two also exchanged lewd photos. Drake is charged with two counts of sexually abusive material/activity and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime.
Because the age of consent in Michigan is 16, Drake will not be charged with criminal sexual conduct.
In light of the men’s arrest, the Explorers Program at the fire department was disbanded.
While investigating problems with that program, the township manager told FOX 17 that several deficiencies in policies and procedures were found and the department’s Chief and Deputy Chief was placed on leave.
Cascade Township Manager Ben Swayze said the township is reviewing its training policies to ensure all township employees understand what is expected of them.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the irresponsible actions of former employees Clem Bell and Steve Drake should cast such a shadow over the Fire Department as a whole, but they have,” Swayze wrote in an email to FOX 17 earlier this month. “I want to reiterate that I support the Department completely. Our firefighters do tremendous work in our community each and every day, and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication. As a Department and a Township, we will work to focus our priorities on ensuring the safety of residents and visitors.”