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Patrolman gets tipped off, twice

Courtney Astolfi • Jan 27, 2015 at 5:04 AM

When Sandusky County sheriff’s Detective Sean O’Connell told trooper Ricky Vitte Jr’s post commander of the allegations and arranged to interview him at the Toledo Patrol post late last year, Vitte got wind from someone that something was up.

He called the boy’s mother and asked her if she told child welfare caseworkers “everything,” according to a deputy’s report filed by O’Connell. Vitte then skipped out on the planned meeting with the detective and headed home.

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O’Connell and another sheriff’s deputy were en route to the post when the boy’s mother contacted them and told them of the call from Vitte. His post commander also called O’Connell and told him Vitte left work early and was headed home.

They turned around and headed there, too, arriving at the home before Vitte.

Lying in wait, they saw Vitte approaching the home, but he fled after noticing the deputy’s cruiser parked nearby. He stopped after speeding away at up to 60 mph with the deputy’s cruiser in pursuit. When he finally stopped, he refused to talk with the detective until he could talk with his attorney, Dean Henry, according to the report.

Henry, who has been working with O’Connell for the past 15 months as a special prosecutor for Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt’s office, works as a defense attorney.    

He defended Vitte in a previous incident in which he allegedly assaulted a 5-year-old boy and the boy’s mother.

A 2003 deputy’s report about that previous incident states Vitte beat the boy until his buttocks were bruised and bleeding and then head-butted his mother when she became upset. Henry successfully defended Vitte in that case, pleading down his domestic violence charge to a lesser charge of child endangering.

The woman filed for a protection order against Vitte, but later dissolved it. Then, in a second protection order barring Vitte from contact with her son, Henry pushed to modify the order so the trooper could carry his service revolver and keep working as a road patrol trooper.

In another apparent tipoff this week, Vitte closed down his Facebook page just hours after the Register informed Stierwalt, O’Connell and Henry the newspaper intended to publish a news article about the allegations at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The Register sent Stierwalt and O’Connell an email a day prior with a list of questions about the allegations, noting the deadline for a response. An email also was sent to Henry, simply seeking comment as Henry had defended Vitte against the prior criminal charge related to the assault on the boy and his mother.

Stierwalt’s office decided Jan. 9 not to charge Vitte for the alleged sexual misconduct with the boy, according to O’Connell’s report, because of the amount of time elapsed since the sexual misconduct incidents and because there was a lack of physical evidence.

After the Register contacted him the following week, however, Stierwalt reviewed the reports again and said the main reason he didn’t move forward with the case was because he didn’t believe he could get a conviction, given that Vitte told the woman he was teaching the boy how to masturbate.

The boy told Erie County social workers Vitte twice showed him pornography while Vitte and the boy masturbated together, according to O’Connell’s report. The incidents allegedly occurred five years ago, when the boy was a pre-teen.

Vitte told the boy’s mother he was teaching the boy he didn’t need “to have sex with someone when he can fix those needs by masturbating to porn,” O’Connell’s report stated.

During the course of O’Connell’s investigation, Vitte was assigned to administrative duties at the post.

When the Ohio State Highway Patrol learned two weeks ago Stierwalt was not going to pursue charges, Vitte was reassigned to the road, where he’s been performing regular trooper duties since, patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston said.

The patrol was aware of the allegations, Ralston said, but has not initiated its own investigation.

“We’re in the process of looking into those allegations to determine where we need to go administratively,” Ralston

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