Firefighter charged with attempted sexual conduct with teen also Pickerington softball coach, district confirms

Andrew Lash (Franklin County Jail)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Columbus firefighter and Pickerington softball coach is on leave without pay after being charged with attempted sexual conduct with a minor.

According to court documents, 54-year-old Walter Lash attempted to have sexual conduct with a 15-year-old girl on Feb. 26.

Lash is also charged with importuning.

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Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin released a statement to 10TV on the charge:

“We have been aware of the charges against Lash. This is devastating to the division and is in no way representative of the values that define us as public servants. Lash will be afforded due process in court as anyone would be and then will face appropriate actions by the division of fire.”

The Columbus Division of Fire said Lash had been placed on unpaid leave.

Lash is due to be arraigned on the charges Thursday morning. He’s currently being held in the Franklin County Jail.

The Pickerington Local School District confirmed Lash was a volunteer coach for the Pickerington Central softball program in 2019 and was approved to be a paid coach for this season in January.

Pickingerton Local School District sent 10TV the following statement:

"The Pickerington Local School District received a tip yesterday afternoon that Walt Lash was arrested. The district confirmed with the Franklin County Sheriff that this did take place. The district immediately reached out to Mr. Lash to inform him that he was being placed on Leave and was not to be on any Pickerington Local School District premises or engage in any coaching activities.

The Pickerington Local School district is sickened to hear of these allegations. Maintaining the safety and security of our students is paramount and when we hire coaches to work with our kids we all want to believe that they are upstanding individuals."

The school district also provided a statement from the softball team's coach sent home to parents:

Good Afternoon Tiger Family,

I am sending out this email sadly, to inform you that The Pickerington Local School District received a tip yesterday afternoon that Walt Lash was arrested. The district confirmed with the Franklin County Sheriff that this did take place. The district immediately reached out to Mr. Lash to inform him that he was being placed on Leave and was not to be on any Pickerington Local School District premises or engage in any coaching activities.

The Pickerington Local School district is sickened to hear of these allegations. Maintaining the safety and security of our students is paramount and when the school hires coaches to work with our kids, we all want to believe that they are upstanding individuals.

I will assure you that I will be doing everything I can to get the girls through this. I will reach out to the school to provide counselors that specialize in this area, as well as, be a strong adult figure that they can confide in, if they chose.

We will get through this together and we will be better for it. I will be telling the girls tonight at tryouts. This will not be easy to do and could get emotional on all different levels and I want you to know that I am sensitive to that. First and foremost, I want to take care of these girls, softball is an afterthought.

I will be replacing him with someone else as my assistant. That position has not been filled, but when it is I will let you know.

-Coach Peterson

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