Friday, November 21st, 2008
Former Fort police chief pleads not guilty
James Champ reportedly told ex-wife he had a revolver, threatened her
By William Kincaid
A former Fort Recovery police chief pleaded not guilty to charges of menacing by stalking and aggravated menacing on Wednesday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court, according to Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox.
James A. Champ, 70, of Fort Recovery, had been in jail since his arrest in September, but was released Wednesday on his own recognizance by Judge Jeffrey Ingraham. He originally was held on a $250,000 bond, which would have required him to post 10 percent.
A pretrial hearing is set for 2 p.m. on Dec. 10.
The charges against Champ were filed after the Fort Recovery Police Department received information that he allegedly made threatening comments to his ex-wife on or about Sept. 12. Champ allegedly claimed to have a .32-caliber revolver and reportedly stated there were only two ways out of a situation he found himself in - "boom, boom" or "boom, boom, boom." He claimed he would be uptown at 5 a.m. to watch as the woman went to work, the report says.
According to an affidavit filed by Fort Recovery Police Chief Jared Laux in Celina Municipal Court, numerous complaints alerted his agency that Champ had attempted to identify the vehicle the woman currently drives and tried to identify with whom she is acquainted. Additionally, he allegedly had been seen watching the residences of people she temporarily lived with as well as locations around her Fort Recovery home and place of employment.
Laux's complaint stated Champ's conduct had been escalating since dismissal of a domestic violence court case in January.
The menacing by stalking charge is a fourth-degree felony, which carries up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine upon conviction. Aggravated menacing is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
While released from jail, Champ is prohibited from using alcohol or drugs and is subject to random testing, according to court records. He also must remain at his residence, abide by all laws and have no contact with the victim.
Also, a motion requesting a forensic psychological evaluation of Champ's competency was approved last month. He then was transported from the Mercer County Jail to the Forensic Psychiatry Center For Western Ohio, Englewood.
Champ served as a police officer in Fort Recovery from June 1973 to July 1996.