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Fourth family member charged in Athens County sex abuse case

ATHENS, Ohio — Bond has been set at $100,000 for a fourth member of an Athens County family charged in a sexual abuse investigation.

Josiah Bellar, 24, appeared in Athens County Common Pleas Court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to three first-degree felony charges of rape and two fourth-degree felony counts of gross sexual imposition.

The charges stem from an investigation after Bellar’s sister, Serah, disappeared in April 2020 and announced in a social media post earlier this year that she was safe. She indicated she’d run away because she feared for her safety and made allegations of sexual assault by members of her family.

According to a release from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, the charges against Josiah Bellar involve two juvenile victims, occurring over a period of time from April 2008 to 2016.

Josiah Bellar is incarcerated at the Warren Correctional Institution, serving a sentence for theft, robbery, having a weapon under disability and forgery that is scheduled to end Dec. 2. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Liz Pepper requested the bond because the case could go on past his release date, the prosecutor’s office said. She also alleged Bellar has made threats against one of the victims.

Also charged in the case are Josiah Bellar’s parents, Robert, 54, and Deborah Bellar, 49, of Athens. They are being held in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail on separate $1 million bonds, each charged with second-degree felony engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and two counts of third-degree felony endangering children. Josiah Bellar’s brother, Jonathan, 26, is charged with gross sexual imposition and is being held on a $100,000 bond.

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