Chapel Hill fire­fighter ac­cused of giv­ing ob­scene ma­te­rial to mi­nor

The Herald Sun - - News - BY TAMMY GRUBB [email protected]­ald­sun.com Tammy Grubb: 919- 829- 8926, @Tam­myGrubb

Po­lice charged a Chapel Hill fire­fighter on Tues­day with pro­vid­ing ob­scene ma­te­rial to a child un­der the age of 16.

Jaime Ernesto Pala­cios, 53, was ar­rested dur­ing a traf­fic stop at the in­ter­sec­tion of Homestead and High School roads in Chapel Hill. He was ar­rested on an out­stand­ing war­rant for three felony counts of dis­sem­i­na­tion of ob­scene ma­te­rial to a mi­nor (un­der 16), a po­lice re­port shows.

Pala­cios, an em­ployee with the Chapel Hill Fire Depart­ment, was re­leased from the Orange County Jail af­ter post­ing a $45,000 se­cured bond fol­low­ing his first ap­pear­ance Wed­nes­day in an Orange County court­room. He is sched­uled to ap­pear in court again Jan. 17.

Pala­cios was hired by the town of Chapel Hill in March 2005, ini­tially as a Chapel Hill Tran­sit em­ployee, pub­lic safety spokesman Ran Northam said.

A 2006 Town Talk em­ployee news­let­ter noted that a res­i­dent had rec­og­nized Pala­cios, then a bus driver, for go­ing “be­yond the call of duty” by help­ing her with a dead car bat­tery.

Pala­cios was hired as a fire­fighter with the Chapel Hill Fire Depart­ment in 2007, Northam said. He noted that Pala­cios is now on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave with­out pay pend­ing an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The State Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he said. No ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the al­leged crimes is avail­able at this time, he said.

Northam said he doesn’t think the al­leged vic­tim was a stu­dent at Chapel Hill High School, which is lo­cated less than a quar­ter-mile from where po­lice stopped Pala­cios.

“I know that he was en route to work,” Northam said. “I don’t think there’s any con­nec­tion you can make with him be­ing near the high school.”

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