Small Town's Controversy: Fire Chief Is a Sex Offender

Roger Gilbert of Spartansburg, Pa., convicted of intercourse with a 4-year-old girl in 2001
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2018 12:21 PM CST
Fire Department Re-Elects Sex Offender as Chief

(Newser) – You'll find the name of Roger Gilbert listed as volunteer fire chief in the small Pennsylvania town of Spartansburg. In fact, the 43-year-old just got re-elected. The problem, though, is that you'll also find his name listed in the state's Megan's Law database for sex offenders, reports the Corry Journal. Back in 2001, Gilbert was convicted of "involuntary deviate sexual intercourse" with a 4-year-old girl and served a 5- to 10-year prison sentence. Gilbert says he's a changed man—"that was 20 years ago"—but his re-election is drawing plenty of attention after the story was picked up nationally by the AP.

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Spartansburg is about 40 miles southeast of Erie, notes PhillyVoice, which points out that Gilbert was elected twice to his post as chief by his fellow firefighters, not the public. (Only about 300 people live in the town.) "The firemen have always elected their own officers and that's how it's always been done," Mayor Ann Louise Wagner tells the Journal. "We don't question their decisions." (Gilbert might see a change in his passport the next time he renews.)

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