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Bloomington Fire Department captain arrested on child sex charges

Robert Sears

UPDATE (April 5, 2018)– Robert Sears tendered his resignation and it was immediately accepted by the fire department and city.

Chief Jason Moore issued this statement:

“The actions of Robert Sears have shaken the Department and the community we serve. With his resignation, we will be able to quickly fill the vacancy his departure creates, allowing us to continue providing the excellent public safety services our community expects.”

Original story:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– A Bloomington Fire Department (BFD) captain was arrested Thursday on child sex charges.

Captain Robert Sears, 44, faces two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of child solicitation.

Bloomington police say a detective was investigating a case of a 14-year-old female possibly having an inappropriate relationship with a 19-year-old man. The two were speaking over a social media app called Whisper. While reviewing communications on the girl’s phone, the detective found a conversation with another person that began in February 2018.

Those messages led the detective to believe they involved an older man who worked 24-hour shifts at the fire department.

The detective determined the man was Sears and he had been involved in some kind of relationship that included possible physical activity. The conversations were described as “quite vulgar and graphic in describing sexual activity,” police said.

The detective began to pose as the teen and led Sears to believe he was going to meet with her at her friend’s house while her parents were away. Police say he told the “teen” he would purchase condoms on the way.

Police say he admitted driving from his home for the purposes of possibly having sex with one or both of the underage girls. He also admitted to participating in sexual activity with the 14-year-old girl on two previous occasions.

When Sears arrived in the neighborhood, a traffic stop was conducted and officers found Sears alone in the truck, along with condoms and other “items of sexual nature.”

BFD says Sears will be placed on administrative duties that prevent him from having contact with the public until formal charges are finalized by the Monroe County Prosecutor’s office.

After formal charges are filed, the Board of Public Safety will decide if administrative leave is warranted, and whether that leave will be paid or unpaid.

Chief Jason Moore will be recommending administrative leave without pay. Moore said this is the strongest action he can currently take.

Chief Moore issued this statement:

“The alleged behavior of this individual who works at the Bloomington Fire Department is not representative of our Department’s values nor overall membership. Our top priority is to always ensure excellent professional service to the public who place their trust in us.”

Sears is a 20-year veteran of BFD and was assigned to Station 5.

He is being held at the Monroe County Jail with no bond.

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