Teen victim of firefighter child porn speaks in court

Clem Bell and Steven Drake each sentenced to eight months in jail

Steven Drake, Clem Bell
Steve Draken (far left, in jail uniform) and Clem Bell (right, in jail uniform) are sentenced on June 22, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The victim of a pair of former Cascade Township firefighters talked Thursday about the sexual abuse she suffered at their hands before the pair was sent to jail.

The teen came into contact with the firefighters when she took part in a high school mentorship program. The 16-year-old says that in the spring of 2016, she was coerced into a sexual relationship with the firefighters, both of whom are married and have children.

While state law says she was old enough to consent to sex, she was not old enough to send and receive sexually explicit pictures. And it was pictures shared via social media that sent the men to jail.

24 Hour News 8 is not identifying the teen, but she said her involvement in the situation was already a general knowledge at her high school.

“I was once known as a happy-go-lucky girl who loved working at the fire department and now I’m the girl who had a sexual relationship with a 51- and 32-year-old man,” she said in a statement Thursday in Kent County Circuit Court.

Former Cascade Township firefighters Clem Bell, a 51-year-old father of four daughters, and Steven Drake, a 32-year-old father of two, were each sentenced to eight months in jail.

“Steve forced me to perform sexual acts,” the victim said. “Steve was also very cautious to use protection so there’d be no evidence of these actions.”

Bell and Drake were suspended from the department in December and later pleaded guilty to child pornography and computer crimes.

Cascade Township Fire Chief John Sigg retired after he and Deputy Chief John Shipley were placed on administrative leave for how they handled the cases. Shipley was later fired.

Thursday, the girl said the relationships started in April 2016, when she was a high school student volunteering at the department.

“I knew I couldn’t stop this because he was the older adult in the situation and in a position of authority over me,” the girl said.

She said she had sex with the men in various rooms of the fire station and in emergency vehicles.

“Clem started to force more from me, which included sexual acts. This was happening daily at times and forced on me multiple times per day,” she said.

She said the firefighters sent and demanded sexually explicit photos and videos via Snapchat and other means they believed to be untraceable.

Bell said nothing in court, but Drake delivered a weepy apology.

“I would like to apologize to all the parties involved for the pain that I’ve caused everyone,” Drake said.

Judge Mark Trusock said only the plea deal stopped them from going to prison.

“You have embarrassed yourselves, your profession. You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Trusock said.