MIDDLEPORT — Bond has been set at $500,000 for the two people charged in connection with the methamphetamine lab located in Middleport last night.
But the methamphetamine lab was not the only possible crime committed.
According to a release by Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood, allegations are also being made of sexual abuse of a minor child in the home.
Deputies, along with Department of Jobs and Family Services Children Services workers interviewed a minor female who alleged forced sexual abuse by her step-father, Joseph G. Stewart. After interviewing the minor child’s mother, Brenda A. Stewart, along with the step-father, it was determined sexual abuse had occurred, according to law enforcement.
Joseph Stewart, 39, was arrested and is was charged with rape a felony of the first degree; illegal manufacturing of drugs, a felony of the first degree; and illegal assembly of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine, a felony of the second degree. Brenda Stewart, 43, was arrested and is charged with illegal manufacturing of drugs, a felony of the first degree and endangering children, a felony of the third degree.
Meigs County Court Judge Steve Story set bond at $500,000 with 10 percent permitted for Brenda A. Stewart and $500,000 with 10 percent not permitted for Joseph G. Stewart. Attorney Trenton Cleland has been appointed to represent Brenda Stewart and Attorney Charles Knight has been appointed to represent Joseph Stewart.
Middleport Police Chief Bruce Swift and Sheriff Wood have said officers with both departments responded to 60 1/2 Cole Street following up on a tip received through Meigs County Children Services regarding a methamphetamine lab and possible sexual abuse of a minor at the residence.
The Stewarts live in an apartment at that address, according to Swift.
While searching the residence, deputies located a one-pot reactionary vessel and white powder which tested positive for methamphetamine along with chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine.
The apartment building with around 25 residents — including some children according to the sheriff — had to be evacuated due to the dangers from the methamphetamine lab.
Once the lab was neutralized and the building cleared of the chemicals, residents were allowed to return to their homes. This occurred at approximately 12:30 a.m.
Both individuals are being held in the Middleport Jail at this time. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 29 for both defendants.
Child Protective Services along with the Middleport Police Department, Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and the Middleport Fire Department responded to the scene. The Middleport Police Department and Athens County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the neutralizing of chemicals.