A federal grand jury in West Virginia returned an indictment Tuesday charging a former West Virginia police officer and firefighter with civil rights offenses against two victims, using fire to commit a felony, and witness tampering.

According to court documents, Christopher Osborne, 25, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Charleston for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old minor female while acting under color of law; destroying a 49-year-old woman’s property without lawful justification;  using fire to commit a felony;  and making false statements to investigators.

Today’s indictment charges Osborne with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, one count of using fire to commit a felony and one count of witness tampering. The first count alleges that in January 2021, while Osborne was a police officer and firefighter, he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, resulting in bodily injury to her. The indictment alleges that this offense included aggravated sexual abuse, attempted aggravated sexual abuse, kidnapping and attempted kidnapping. The second count alleges that in November 2019, while Osborne was a police officer and firefighter, he destroyed the property and dwelling of a 49-year-old woman without lawful justification, and this offense included the use and attempted use of fire. The third count alleges that this conduct also constituted using a fire to commit a felony. The fourth count alleges that Osborne knowingly engaged in misleading conduct toward investigators with the intent to hinder a federal investigation by falsely denying engaging in any sexual contact or sexual act with his 16-year-old victim.

The first count carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, the second count carries a maximum penalty of ten years, the third count carries a mandatory penalty of ten years and the fourth count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Lisa G. Johnston for the Southern District of West Virginia and FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall made the announcement.

The FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office investigated the case, with support from the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia State Fire Marshals.

Trial Attorney Kathryn E. Gilbert of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Rada Herrald and Julie White for the Southern District of West Virginia are prosecuting the case.

Anyone with information about Christopher Osborne should contact the FBI’s Charleston Resident Agency at 304-346-2300.

An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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Author: Editor
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