MANATEE -- A fire commissioner for the Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue District was arrested Thursday on several sexual battery and child molestation charges.
Mark Ruben, 45, is being held without bond at the Manatee County jail.
Ruben faces four counts of sexual battery on a minor and four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on a minor, a capias warrant shows.
The commissioner, who lives in Bradenton, allegedly molested children ages 8, 11 and 13, who were known to him between 2005 and 2011, according to the warrant.
Some of the children told authorities last year that they were sexually abused. One child said he was molested by Ruben in his office at the Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue District station.
But when the child was interviewed again by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, he “recanted his story saying that he was just mad” at Ruben, an arrest report said.
When Ruben was interviewed by the sheriff’s office last year, he “adamantly denied all of the allegations,” his arrest report said.
Ruben is one of five elected commissioners on the board that oversees the Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue District.
Maggie Mooney-Portale, the fire district’s attorney, said she has contacted Gov. Rick Scott’s office, which must be notified when an elected official is charged with a crime.
“I believe they are investigating the possibility of his suspension at this time,” she said.
Ruben has been a fire commissioner for more than five years, she said.
“Like everybody, he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Mooney-Portale said.