COLFAX TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A camp counselor has been fired from a West Michigan Christian camp amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Investigators confirmed to 24 Hour News 8 that the allegations are against a former male camp counselor at Cran-Hill Ranch near Rodney in Mecosta County. He is accused of inappropriate sexual conduct toward a young camper.
The executive director of the popular Christian family and youth camp, which is in its 47th year, says this is a situation he’s never dealt with before.
“It’s actually very, very rare in the camping industry, around the country and around the state. Very, very rare for any allegation of this nature,” Scott Barger told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday.
Barger said the camp got wind of the allegation from the camper on July 9.
“We were disappointed and saddened,” Barger said. “Our role is to act. Our role is to act and to protect campers.”
And that’s what camp officials did. Barger says they immediately followed protocol, contacting the local sheriff’s department, state Investigators and the alleged victim’s parents.
Within an hour of the allegations, the counselor was fired.
“It was our policy to ask him to leave and he agreed and went home,” Barger said.
Specifics of the case aren’t entirely clear. The Mecosta County sheriff told 24 Hour News 8 that his department is investigating and arranging to interview the suspect, who lives out of state.
The case has not yet been handed over to prosecutor’s office. It’s not yet known what, if any, formal charges will be filed.
Meanwhile, the camp has been working closely with the alleged victim’s family.
“We want people to feel comfortable in knowing that their kids are safe in all Christian camps. They do a great job, I affirm all Christian camps in the state,” Barger said.
In an email, investigators from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs told 24 Hour News 8 that the state is not taking action against the camp. LARA says Cran-Hill Ranch took “swift and appropriate action” following the allegations.
Cran-Hill released this statement about the incident on Friday;
“On Thursday, July 9th, at approximately 12:00noon, it came to Cran-Hill Ranch attention that there were allegations of potential misconduct toward a camper by a summer camp counselor.
- Immediately, both the camp’s Program Director and Executive Director acted to follow all protocols and procedures that are both Cran-‐Hill Ranch policy and a part of State of Michigan camping rules for licensed camps.
- We then immediately contacted Mecosta County Sherriff’s Office authorities -‐ who did an incredible job handling the allegations and procedures.
- Cran-‐Hill immediately contacted the State of Michigan to report the incident with the licensing sector for Michigan youth camps. They also did an incredible job and affirmed our handling of the allegation.
- As per our child protection policy, the counselor was immediately removed from Cran-‐Hill Ranch premises and we conducted our own internal investigation of the allegations.
- It’s our understanding the process continues to be in progress with local authorities and we cannot comment any further on this specific case as it is now in the hands of the authorities.
Because our priority at Cran-Hill Ranch is always kids safety first, and have an impeccable 47 year history of caring for kids in the Christian Camp environment, we continue to do all we can to aid local authorities, parents and state agencies in their investigation of these allegations.
In order to not inhibit an ongoing investigation and in the interest of child protection and privacy no further specific information can be provided by Cran-Hill Ranch regarding the case.
Both Cran-Hill Ranch and the family members are disappointed and saddened by the allegations of this case, we are grateful that Cran-Hill Ranch continues to be affirmed by those involved in the case. We will continue to work alongside and support the youth and family members in the on-going investigation.”
Scott R. Barger, Sr.