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Merrionette Park removes 2 firefighters accused in sex abuse case

Updated: June 18, 2013 11:50AM

The Village of Merrionette Park has removed from active duty two firefighters accused of sexually abusing a woman last week at a party in Chicago.

The 22-year-old woman was visiting from Hawaii when she became ill from too much to drink at a June 14 party in the 3900 block of West 109th Street and went to sleep in a bedroom, said Assistant State’s Attorney Bridget O’Brien.

Merrionette Park firefighter Marvin Buehl, 24, allegedly removed her pants and sexually abused her while another Merrionette Park firefighter, Michael Haas, 20, stood outside the door as a lookout, O’Brien said.

Both “available as necessary” firefighters were removed from active duty at 8 a.m. Monday, according to a statement from the Village of Merrionette Park. The southwestern suburb does not have a full-time fire department and “available as necessary” firefighters are paid after working on a call. The removal is similar to an unpaid leave for full-time paid employees.

Buehl, of the 3800 block of West 107th Place in Chicago, was ordered held on $250,000 bond. Haas, who lives near South St. Louis Avenue and West 104th Street in Chicago, was ordered held on $100,000 bond, authorities said. Both men were free on bond Monday.

O’Brien said the woman had gone to the party with her boyfriend, who took her to the bedroom to rest after she became ill from too much to drink. The boyfriend left the woman fully clothed with the bedroom door ajar and returned to the party, but checked on her periodically, O’Brien said.

The firefighters allegedly told other partygoers they were leaving, but when witnesses heard footsteps upstairs, the woman’s boyfriend went to check on her, O’Brien said. The boyfriend found Haas standing in front of a closed bedroom door then opened it to see the woman asleep, partially clothed with Buhle on top of her, prosecutors said.

After a Sunday court hearing on the case, Haas’s attorney, Sean O’Brien, said Haas “looks forward to fighting (the charges) in court.”

Merrionette Park officials will conduct an investigation with other law enforcement agencies, according to the statement, which also said the village requested Chicago Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office conduct a “thorough and independent criminal investigation.”

Contributing: Rosalind Rossi

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