Members of Texas fire department charged with sex assault

DALLAS (AP) — Volunteer firefighters south of Dallas were arrested on charges that they held down a man and sexually assaulted him at their fire station, according to a court affidavit released Tuesday.

Five men ranging in age from 19 to 30 were charged with aggravated sexual assault while a 23-year-old woman was charged with improper visual recording for using a cellphone to videotape the assault, the arrest warrant affidavit showed.

Neither the Texas Rangers, who are leading the investigation, nor the affidavit give a motive for the assault. But Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson said it appears to be the result of a “rite of initiation” for the victim.

At least one of the suspects is a lieutenant with the Emergency Services District No. 6 Volunteer Fire Department in Waxahachie. Alec Miller, 28, posted a $75,000 bond and was released Tuesday from the Ellis County jail. He was named the department’s 2014 officer of the year, according to its Facebook page. Online jail records did not indicate an attorney for him.

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The men were arrested Monday along with Brittany Leanne Parten, the woman accused of recording the incident. Ellis County Judge Carol Bush said in a statement released to the Waxahachie Daily Light newspaper that Parten is not a firefighter with the department.

Home phone numbers could not be found for Miller or Parten.

Calls to the department Tuesday went unanswered, and the Texas Department of Public Safety declined to comment beyond a statement it released announcing the arrests.

The affidavit says that on Jan. 20, the victim was held down at the fire station as the men assaulted him. The victim told investigators he threw up in a bathroom after he was released, the affidavit said.

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The men “are seen on video and overheard yelling and laughing with excitement,” according to the affidavit. The victim reported the matter to authorities last week.

Bush, the Ellis County judge, later said in a statement to The Associated Press that it’s her understanding that other regional fire departments are working to make sure that there aren’t any gaps in coverage in light of the arrests.

The department’s Facebook page says it has about 25 people on staff.