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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Police Chief Sex Assault Arrest Inquiry Expands

Old Forge Probe Expands Beyond Sex Scandal, DA Says
The Republican Herald by Steve McConnell  -  May 12, 2012

The scope of a criminal probe in Old Forge has expanded beyond sexual assault charges against the police chief, a subordinate officer and a former firefighter accused of having sexual relations with the same 15-year-old girl over a period of years. Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola said investigators with his office and state police interviewed several borough employees on Friday as part of a broadening investigation that so far has resulted in the arrests of Police Chief Larry Semenza, 48, police Capt. Jamie Krenitsky, 34, and former volunteer firefighter Walter Chiavacci, 46. Investigators say Capt. Krenitsky, of 19 Casey Ave., and Mr. Chiavacci, of 511 W. Grace St., have admitted to having inappropriate sexual contact with alleged victim, who is now 23. The Times-Tribune does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault. Investigators' questions for several borough employees on Friday included discussion of the alleged sexual misconduct, but included inquiries into other potential offenses, Mr. Jarbola said. He declined to elaborate. "We'll just have to look and see where the evidence takes us," Mr. Jarbola said. The district attorney would not say who was interviewed or whether they were members of the police and fire departments, citing the ongoing investigation. Nor would he specify exactly what investigators were asking or looking for outside of the sexual allegations. Capt. Krenitsky was arrested last week on charges that he sexually assaulted the 15-year-old girl in 2005 in a bunk room inside the borough's Fire Department - which is in the same building as the Police Department. The girl became a member of the Fire Department in September 2004, when she was 14, investigators said. State police arrested Mr. Chiavacci the same day, charging him with having inappropriate contact with the girl in 2004. On Wednesday, Chief Semenza, of 153 Sussex St., was arrested on charges that he carried on a sexual relationship with the girl from 2004 to 2007. Both police officers have been suspended without pay. Mr. Chiavacci has not been a member of the Fire Department for some time. Mr. Jarbola confirmed that the FBI has a role in the probe, but declined to elaborate. He said he did not know how many borough employees were interviewed and would not say whether more alleged victims have come forward. Efforts to reach Mayor Michele Avvisato and Officer Kim Buggey, who is now in charge of the department, were unsuccessful on Friday. Borough Fire Chief Mark Tagliaterra said he has spoken to FBI agents, though he would not reveal what they asked, saying he did not want to jeopardize the investigation. Interviewed Friday evening, borough council Chairman Brian Rinaldi said he was not aware investigators had interviewed borough employees earlier in the day. "In fact, all of my information is coming from (The Times-Tribune)," Mr. Rinaldi said. "Any information I get comes from you guys. "I don't think they would tell me where they are going" with the investigation, he added. Mr. Rinaldi said he has not been interviewed by any law enforcement agency regarding the criminal probe, nor he is aware of any council members being interviewed. "I didn't hear from anybody today," he said. "We want to cooperate." Contact the writer:

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