A volunteer firefighter is accused of falsely telling two young women their house north of Helena was being evacuated before bringing them to his home and groping them.
Edward Chevallier, 55, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault and two misdemeanor counts of unlawful transactions with children. He has been suspended from the Canyon Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said.
"He won't be responding as a firefighter, pending an investigation," Dutton said.
A deputy met with the two women at St. Peter's Health Tuesday, according to charging documents. The women, ages 18 and 19, reported that Chevallier had come to their home on Lincoln Road and said it was being evacuated because of the Horesefly fire east of Lincoln.
The women told authorities they believed Chevallier because of his position with the Canyon Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Court documents say Chevallier did not have the authority to have the women evacuated from the home, which was outside of the evacuation zone.
The women said Chevallier offered to let them stay with him on Chevallier Drive, and they brought their dogs, horses and other belongings with them to his home. They reported that Chevallier opened two bottles of beer out of their line of sight and provided the alcohol to both of them, even though they told him they were younger than 21 after he asked their ages.
The women reported that Chevallier later groped their chests under their clothing before they knocked his hands away.
Chevallier later met with a detective at the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center. He admitted to touching the women sexually, but said he had only done so over their clothing, according to court documents.
Dutton said evacuation orders are typically carried out by a deputy in uniform. They are occasionally conducted by an officer in plain clothes with a badge and a gun, he said, but "our preference is not to have a firefighter."
"If they have any questions they can just pick up the phone and call 911, because being evacuated is an emergency but you want to make sure that it's a credible source," Dutton said. "This is the first time I've ever had this happen. I've never experienced this before."
"If the person is asking you to go to their home, that should be a red flag," he added.
All charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Independent Record Editor Jesse Chaney contributed to this story.