Updated: Tuesday, 05 Mar 2013, 10:09 PM EST
Published : Friday, 01 Mar 2013, 7:29 PM EST
WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- A sex abuse scandal sparks up at the West Haven fire department. Two men, one former and one current volunteer firefighter were arrested in Vermont. They're accused of coercing a child into becoming a sex slave.
The affidavit says the victim had sex with the men 3 to 4 hundred times between the ages of 12 to 16. Police used text messages and a wire sting to make the arrest.
In West Haven, many know Volunteer Firefighter Captain Frank Meyer.
"Like I say, he's always been a good kid, he's little older now, but he was a kid to me so, I enjoyed having him as a neighbor," said neighbor Dick Lynch. "Hopefully it's not as bad as what they're making it out."
That's why many were floored when they heard Meyer and former West Haven Firefighter Brett Bartolotta were arrested for sex slavery and prostitution.
"If it's true I'm glad he got caught, but you know, that's up to the courts to decide," said neighbor Robert Swan.
Police say last month at the age of 24 the victim finally told his mother what was going on. He came forward to police last week describing sex abuse spanning several years.
In 2001, the alleged victim from Ludlow, VT, then 12, accused the two men of forcing him to commit heinous sex acts in exchange for money or gifts. The relationship continued until he was 25.
"When you're victimized at such a young age you're probably not going to all of a sudden become aware at the age of 16 or 18 that this is not in your best interest," said Det. Barbara Zonay, VT State Police.
Court documents say the two met the boy when he was 12 and sold him a dirt bike. He couldn't make the payments so they told him he could make money by participating in orgies.
The papers say over the years he had sex with Meyer more than 400 times and with Bartolotta twice that amount.
"Well we were obviously surprised by the allegations and we were taken off guard," said Fire Chief James O'Brien.
He says both men had a squeaky clean record. Bartolotta left the force about 10 years ago, but Meyer continued to work.
He founded the explorer program for high school kids, worked as a fire dispatcher, and ran the Spring Street fire house.
"We're talking to the volunteers that are involved in that station and the explorers as a precautionary measure, I've temporarily closed the fire station just until we can get a handle on what has transpired," said Chief O'Brien. "What we're dealing with was something that was out of state. We have no indication of any improprieties or anything linked to that coming within our community or with our department."
Neighbors also trying to digest the news.
"We'll have to see, I'm not going to jump to conclusions, you know, what's the bottom line," said Lynch.
Even though Meyer was a volunteer Captain he's been placed on administrative leave.
Both men are facing a $50,000 bond.