A Columbus man accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl has been jailed on a $500,000 cash bond.
John Fehl, 67, appeared Wednesday afternoon in Columbia County Circuit Court, charged with exposing a child to harmful material, repeated sexual assault of a child, sexual assault of a child under 16 and false imprisonment.
According to the criminal complaint, a woman called police after seeing the girl come out of a room where pornography was displayed on the television at Fehl’s residence.
When asked about it later, the girl told investigators from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department that she had been going to Fehl’s home almost daily for the past couple weeks. Normally, cartoons were displayed on the TV, but recently they had been replaced by pornography. She said Fehl touched himself and her. The girl said Fehl had knives, swords and guns in his home and threatened to hurt her family if she told anyone.
The officer spoke with a sexual assault nurse examiner who said that after an examination of the girl, there were “signs of injury consistent with sexual assault and attempted penetration.”
When the officer spoke with Fehl on Sunday, Fehl reportedly said the incident involving porn on the television came from a freeze frame when the girl unexpectedly walked into the room.
Fehl told the officer that he had a relationship with the girl “like a grandfather,” and that the girl would walk into his home anytime, which happened to be the case that day. Other allegations, he said, were impossible, and he said he was physically incapable of the acts described.
On Wednesday afternoon, Fehl made an initial appearance in court via video from Columbia County Jail. Judge Todd Hepler ordered him held on $500,000 cash bond, with orders to have no contact with the girl or her family and not to possess any weapons.
Fehl is due to next appear in court for a July 19 preliminary hearing.