Carlton Raye Bell, Jr., 27, met "Jake Doe," 14, on Grindr, where Jake was known by the user name "UnderageTwink," and Bell was known as "CJ." After their initial exchange, Bell allegedly asked that the two move their conversation to Snapchat, so that there would be no record of their talk, because he was nervous about the boy's age, which Jake had told Bell was 15.
On Snapchat, the two shared a series of impromptu nude photos, including photos of Bell's genitalia. The two arranged to meet the next day. When Jake got into Bell's Jeep, he told Bell that he was "nervous about what they were going to do next." Bell said that he "was also nervous because he could go to jail for what they were prepared to do," according to a criminal complaint filed by the investigator, Det. Joseph Walton, with the Chester County District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit. Walton is a trained sexual abuse investigator with 29 years of experience.
On Jan. 17, Bell was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault of a minor, corruption of a minor, unlawful contact with a minor, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and other related offenses.
The Chester County District Attorney's Office said Bell was a battalion chief with North Coventry Fire Company and a volunteer firefighter with the Limerick, Ridge and Goodwill Pottstown fire companies in Montgomery County.
Bell has been suspended from all four companies since his arrest.
PGN spoke with Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan on Jan. 21. Ryan said that her office is "deeply committed to the protection and safety of children."
Ryan was unable to give specific details on how the case came to the police and her office, citing both privacy issues and the ongoing nature of the investigation, but she said that there was significant data on the crimes that Bell was charged with. She credited the investigators in the case for their work and said, "Along with law enforcement throughout this county, we will continue to be vigilant in helping this vulnerable population. We are grateful for the collective efforts of law enforcement in the swift apprehension of the defendant in this case."
Bell was arraigned Jan. 18 before District Justice John Bailey of West Whiteland Township and committed to Chester County Prison in lieu of $150,000 bail. Ryan told PGN that Bell was able to post bail Jan. 21.
Detailed interviews with both Bell and Jake Doe — referenced as "Victim 1" in the police report were given to Walton. According to those interviews outlined in the police complaint, when Bell and Jake left the parking lot where they arranged to meet, Bell took Jake to his home, where the two engaged in oral and anal sex acts in Bell's bedroom.
The police complaint states that the investigation began Dec. 24 when the East Coventry Township Police Department received a tip from a ChildLine report about encounters between a 14-year-old and an unknown adult.
On Dec. 30, Walton interviewed Jake. The teen explained that he had met Bell, who he knew as "CJ," on the Grindr dating site, telling the man that he was 15 years old.
According to Pennsylvania age of consent laws 2020, the age of legal consent is 16. Consent laws in the state stipulate that any encounter with a minor — those under the age of 18 — by an adult is rape, sexual assault or statutory rape. In instances of teens 16 and 17, they may consent to each other, but not to anyone 18 or older. Teens between the ages of 13 and 15 may consent to sex with someone not more than four years older, because while they may not be affected by the statutory rape laws, there are other related offenses they can be charged with.
On Sept. 15, Bell allegedly drove to a parking lot near Jake's home, picked up the teen, then drove to his home where the sexual encounters took place.
The complaint details how on Sept. 19, Bell created a group chat with the victim and two other minors, suspected to be 16 and 17 years old, on Snapchat.
According to Jake's interview, when Bell picked Jake up near his home on their second meeting, the two other teens from the Snapchat group were already in Bell's car. They drove to Bell's home, where a series of sexual encounters occurred.
Bell had oral sex with Jake, which Jake videotaped on his phone. Bell then engaged in sex acts with the other two boys. Jake told police he sat in a computer chair and watched Bell with the other two minor boys.
Bell then drove Jake home.
Jake assisted police in locating Bell's house. The teen also was shown a Facebook page in Bell's name and recognized him as "CJ."
As a condition of his bail, Bell was ordered to have no contact with the victim or any other minor and to have no contact with any fire company.
Additionally, the defendant is prohibited from using the internet or social media or visiting any place where minors may be. A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Jan. 23, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. at District Court, 15-3-01, before Magisterial District Judge Hipple in Pottstown.
This case was investigated by the Chester County Detectives and the East Coventry Police Department. It is assigned to Assistant District Attorney Emily Provencher from the Chester County District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit.
PGN requested comment from Bell, but he did not respond to repeated attempts.
Anyone with further information on this case or any other incidents involving the defendant is asked to call Det. Walton at 610-344-6866.