ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — An Athens County man, one of four family members accused of assault and child endangerment, has pleaded guilty to the charges he was facing.
Josiah Bellar, 24, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Athens County Common Pleas Court to felonious assault and child endangerment charges, according to a news release from Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. He is the first of four members of the Bellar family to be convicted from a sexual assault investigation filed earlier this year.
According to the court documents, Bellar committed abusive acts against two children in May while under the supervision of his parents, Robert and Deborah Bellar. Both are charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and two counts of child endangerment. Josiah Bellar’s 27-year old brother, Jonathan, is also charged with gross sexual imposition in the case.
One of the victims — whose age was listed as 16 in April 2020 — had been reported missing, but she resurfaced with a Facebook post under a pseudonym. In the post, she said that she planned to wait until she was 18 to come forward and described numerous allegations involving the family.
The victim was in attendance and agreed with the sentencing. In a statement, Athens County First Assistant Prosecutor Meg Saunders said that Josiah Bellar is “a human piece of garbage.”
Bellar was sentenced to five years of community control by Judge Patrick Lang with a four-year underlying prison sentence should he violate terms. He must also complete residential mental health and substance abuse counseling.
“I’ve been in criminal defense for 25 years. … I don’t think I’ve ever heard of circumstances in a household that were as tragic as what Mr. Bellar found himself growing up in,” defense attorney Andrew Sanderson said. “I’ve often represented people from challenging backgrounds. I’ve often stood before courts and explained that that’s not an excuse for my client’s behavior but perhaps as an explanation for my client’s behavior. I don’t know if that’s ever been more true than it is (here).”
Jonathan Bellar is scheduled for a pretrial on Dec. 7. A trial for Robert and Deborah Bellar is scheduled for March 1.