AKRON, Ohio -- The Akron-area haunted house that found itself surrounded in controversy earlier this fall will not face any criminal charges.
The Springfield Township Police Department had launched an investigation of Akron Fright Fest last month after allegations surfaced that guests at the Halloween attraction were subjected to a mock rape scenario.
Sergeant Eric East of the Springfield Township Police Department issued the following statement Wednesday morning:
After a thorough investigation, several interviews and discussions with prosecutors, it was determined that no charges would be filed in the cases. There is no doubt that the actors of the haunted house used poor judgment in their use of body and spoken language during Akron Fright Fest. Although their actions were inadvisable, there was no physical evidence to substantiate allegations of a crime being committed.
The owner Jeremy Caudill says he feels relived.
“We didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “There may have been some wrong choices. I tried to make changes as quickly as I could. "
The controversy couldn't have come at a worse time for him. During the fallout from the allegations, Caudill's wife, Melanie was battling breast cancer.
"I was actually bedside with her and the T.V was on and I was the first person on inside edition."
Melanie, a nurse and only 45, passed away late last month.
"All she wanted to do was help people her whole life," he said.
Caudill says he never wanted to get in the Halloween business, but people wanted him to do it. He says was never involved in the process. Caudill says he left that up to his now fired “frightmaster”, who was the manager of the haunted attraction. He says it's unclear if he's going to do Akron Fright Fest next year..
"I would probably move the venue. I will probably move it somewhere else if I choose to do it again."
But, Kim Tam Park at Melanie Lake will remain open for business in honor of his late wife.
"My goal is to keep that lake alive all year round because she had such a big spirit about her,” he said. “She’s going to be living there. She's going to keep that lake alive."
Akron Fright Fest, however, is currently facing a lawsuit from Ryan Carr and Sarah Lelonek -- a couple who claims they were “roughly grabbed, pushed and shoved with such force that they suffered physical injuries.”
Details of the alleged mock rape situation are contained in the lawsuit: "Mr. Carr made multiple attempts to get up and away from the employee, but was forcibly pushed down each time, by the shoulders." That employee -- described as 200-250 pounds -- is accused of thrusting against Carr's body after declaring, 'I'm gonna rape him.'"
Akron Fright Fest was dubbed the area's first "R-rated" haunted house, which included multiple attractions -- including one that required a waiver to enter.
►WATCH | WKYC's Ray Strickland experienced Akron Fright Fest before the allegations surfaced: