The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 31, 2012

Cop’s fling with victim costs badge

Point Twp. chief’s underling, cousin date after sex-assault investigation

By Francis Scarcella

The Daily Item

NORTHUMBERLAND — Romantic and family ties may jeopardize the prosecution of a sexual assault case investigated by Point Township policeman Wade Lytle, who became romantically involved with the alleged victim, who is the cousin of Chief Josh VanKirk.

Lytle has been placed on paid administrative leave after he told VanKirk that he had become romantically involved with the woman who reported the alleged crime to her cousin.

The disclosure triggered a cascade of concerns about potential conflicts of interest, including the fact that the alleged victim was a relative of the police chief, who passed the case to Lytle.

Lytle in March arrested Benjamin Scheller, 34, of 129 Reagan St., Sunbury. Lytle reported Scheller brandished a silver semi-automatic handgun, zip-tied the woman to a chair and sexually assaulted her.

VanKirk, who learned of his cousin’s relationship with his underling in the past two weeks, met Tuesday with Point Township supervisors and recommended the board fire Lytle because he put the municipality at risk of potential lawsuits and jeopardized the criminal case against Scheller, documents said.

Read more of this story in Thursday’s edition of The Daily Item.