CAROLINE CROSSROADS Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
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Caroline firefighter facing charges


A firefighter with the Ladysmith Volunteer Fire Department in Caroline County is facing charges of breaking and entering, assault and stalking.

Herbert “John” Oates, 33, of Ruther Glen, was arrested Sunday after a stalking complaint was filed with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office by a woman he is accused of assaulting last month.

The woman, a 28-year-old Spotsylvania County native who now lives in Caroline, told The Free Lance-Star she first remembered seeing Oates on Oct. 20 at a gas station in Ladysmith. She said he walked up to her and knew her full name and physical address.

This alarmed her, she said, but he explained by saying he was a firefighter and had helped put out a fire at her home in 2008. Fire dispatch records show that a kitchen fire occurred at her home in November 2007.

The woman didn’t remember him, but they had a short, friendly conversation and exchanged phone numbers.

The woman said Oates called her repeatedly over the next few days and showed up at her house unannounced on Oct. 22.

She said he assaulted her.

The next day, she said, he came to her house again and walked in her front door without permission.

She called a security guard in her neighborhood, who called police. Oates was charged with breaking and entering and two counts of assault. He was released on bond and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 17 in Caroline County General District Court.

This Saturday, the woman said, she was at her job at a store in Stafford County when Oates walked up and stared at her. She said she ran away as fast as she could and called police.

Oates was arrested the next day and charged with stalking. An arraignment in that case is set for Dec. 1. He was released from custody on a $1,500 personal recognizance bond.

Oates has been a career firefighter and EMT in Hanover County since November 2009. He has been a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Ladysmith for 10 years.

Caroline County Fire-EMS Chief David Layman said Oates is on administrative leave pending the outcome of his cases, which is standard procedure.

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