A Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police officer was indicted Friday for sex offenses involving teenagers he met through a mentoring program.
Christopher Collins, 26 of Garfield Heights, was charged with two counts of Sexual Battery, one count of Attempted Sexual Battery, four counts of Endangering Children, four counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Child, five counts of Underage Alcohol Use, one count of Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles and one count of Obstructing Official Business.
The case involves five teenagers he met in his role as an officer, according to CMHA.
"He abused these children and for that he will be held accountable," CMHA Chief Andy Gonzalez told News 5.
Gonzalez said the teens were involved in a police Explorers program, which is directed toward young men and women who are interested in law enforcement careers.
“As a police officer for 36 years, this is one of the most disturbing cases that I’ve had to investigate,” Gonzalez said. “Police officers are not above the law and Collins will be held responsible for his actions in a court of law.”
According to the CMHA Police Department, Collins was relieved of his duties as soon as police received information about his actions.
Collins has been with CMHA since 2013. He's been a mentor with the explorers since 2014. Gonzalez said the students in his program are between the ages of 14-18.
Gonzalez told News 5 the allegations came to light on Jan. 24 when a family member of one of the underage victims reported that she was suspicious of their relationship. Upon interviewing other explorers, investigators discovered Collins had relations with 5 different minors.
He has been on unpaid leave since.
News 5 has requested the officer's personnel files. Gonzalez said Collins passed an extensive background check to become an advisor in the Explorers program.
“Our office appreciates the aggressive investigation by CMHA’s police department that brought this case to our attention,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley. “This rogue officer violated the highest trust by preying on teenaged victims that put their trust in him as a mentor. We look forward to continuing to partner with the CMHA police to bring him to justice.”
Collins is currently in custody and will appear in court at 8:30 a.m. on March 24.