A Lower Windsor Township supervisor who also serves as East Prospect's deputy fire chief had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl and tried to thwart efforts to find her after she ran away, police allege.
Marlin James Mellinger, 55, of 1718 Long Level Road, has not yet been arraigned on charges of child endangerment and obstructing the administration of law, according to the office of District Judge John H. Fishel.
State police filed the misdemeanor charges on Monday, according to court records.
Mellinger did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. It's unclear whether he has retained an attorney.
He has not been charged for his alleged sexual relationship with the 17-year-old girl. The investigation into those allegations continues, according to Lt. Frederick Hess, commander of the York state police barracks.
Instead, Mellinger is accused of endangering her welfare by misleading state police, who were trying to find her after she ran away, according to his arrest affidavit.
The allegations: Mellinger acted as a mentor to the teen, which is why state police talked to him after she ran away on Feb. 25, the affidavit states.
On that day, Mellinger told troopers he knew the girl had a pre-paid cell phone and that she was planning on running away, but said he had no information as to her whereabouts, police said.
Police said they later learned the girl was still in the York area, because she was sending text messages to another person.
The girl eventually was found safe, state police said.
'Father figure': On Feb. 28, Mellinger was interviewed by police for a second time.
That's when Mellinger admitted he knew the girl's cell phone number and had previously had text-message conversations with her, the affidavit states.
He also said he played a "father-figure" role in the girl's life, police said.
The trooper then asked Mellinger "if he had a physical, sexual relationship with (the girl), and he acknowledged that he did," the affidavit states.
Motive? Police allege Mellinger failed to give troopers the girl's cell number on Feb. 25 to hide his sexual relationship with her, according to the affidavit.
The number would have allowed troopers to narrow down her location by determining which cell-phone tower her phone was pinging from, police said.
Mellinger told troopers "he was only trying to protect her because he knew she was prohibited from possessing the phone," according to the affidavit.
But police said by not giving her number to troopers, Mellinger both endangered her welfare and obstructed the administration of law.
Chief, township respond: East Prospect Fire Chief Jerry Hanson said Mellinger has been on leave since the investigation came to light.
"The fire department has done everything to be fully cooperative with police," he said.
Lower Windsor Township officials released a statement Tuesday:
"The Board of Supervisors and staff of Lower Windsor Township were disappointed to learn that criminal charges have been filed against Supervisor Marlin Mellinger. The Board and staff are confident our legal system will afford Mr. Mellinger and full and fair disposition of the charges that have been lodged against him. Because the charges are pending .... Lower Windsor Township will not offer any further statements or respond to any questions regarding those charges."
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.