A Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority officer has been indicted on sex crime charges and other crimes.
According to authorities, Christopher Collins met four of the five teenage victims at a mentoring program called "Law Enforcement Explorers."
The 26-year-old Garfield Heights resident now faces several charges, including five counts of underage alcohol use, four counts of endangering children, and two counts of sexual battery.
“As a police officer for 36 years, this is one of the most disturbing cases that I’ve had to investigate,” CMHA police chief Andres Gonzalez said in a statement. “Police officers are not above the law and Collins will be held responsible for his actions in a court of law.”
Officials said Collins was "relieved of his duties" within 24 hours of CMHA authorities learning of the incident.
Collins is now on unpaid leave.
The incidents first came to the attention of CMHA authorities in late January of this year. Police got a complaint that Collins had sent innapprorpiate messages to a teen girl.
She appears to be the first victim.
CMHA reached out to Internet Crimes Against Children and realized the scope included four other youth--- all four additional victims are boys and all four are associated with the Explorers program.
The Explorers is a mentoring program that allows teens, aged 14-18, to learn about a career in law enforcement. The chief says some time could be spent shadowing officers, meeting in groups and one-on-one time.
While Gonzalez said he is unwilling to comment on the specifics of the alleged sexual misconduct and whether it occurred while Collins was mentoring or working, the indictment stipulates the conduct occured with at least one victim while Collins was in "a position of temporary or occasional disciplinary control... over.. a minor."
The program has now been suspended, according to Chief Gonzalez.
"I'm angry about this," Gonzalez told WKYC's Hilary Golston. "He's going to be held accountable."
A police source speaking on the condition of anonymity tells WKYC Channel 3 that Collins worked as an Explorer in at least one other northeast Ohio police department.
He is set to be arraigned on March 24.