A father and son appeared in court Friday on separate indictments related to the alleged ongoing sexual abuse of children in Athens County.
Robert Bellar, 54, is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and two counts of endangering children. His son, 26-year-old Jonathan Bellar, is charged with gross sexual imposition.
Both pleaded not guilty and Robert was given a $1 million bond while Jonathan’s bond was set at $100,000.
Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said the sexual abuse investigation started when a now 18-year-old woman, who is alleged to be one of the victims, posted online about several allegations, including sexual assault.
The victim said on multiple occasions between 2008-2016, her pleas for help were ignored.
Blackburn said sexual abuse within the home was reported to the Athens County Children Services (ACCS) in February 2017, May 2018 and April 2020 but neither ACCS or the Athens County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) took formal action.
In emailed statements on Wednesday, the ACCS and CAC said the agencies cannot talk about details about specific cases because they need to protect the identity of those involved.
Blackburn has said there was “an absolute systemic failure in handling these accusations” and reiterated that the investigation is continuing.
Robert’s wife, 49-year-old Deborah Bellar, appeared in court on Wednesday where she also pleaded not guilty and received a $1 million bond.
Twenty-four-year-old Josiah Bellar, one of Robert and Deborah’s 18 children, has also been indicted on charges of rape and gross sexual imposition. He is currently in custody on unrelated charges and has not yet been arraigned in this case.
On Friday, Robert was ordered to have no contact with his minor children or his co-defendants in the case. A pretrial date is set for June 29 with a jury trial on July 29.
Jonathan was ordered to have no contact with the victim. A pretrial hearing is set for June 14 with a jury trial on July 27.