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Vitte probe still pending

Courtney Astolfi • Apr 1, 2014 at 6:51 AM

Sandusky County officials remain tight-lipped about a Highway Patrol sergeant who allegedly masturbated with a pre-teen boy, but Ohio’s attorney general recently offered some choice words on the matter.

“I found it disgusting ... and I found the facts to be shocking,” Attorney General Mike DeWine told the Register last week. “I have no clue why no one was charged.”

It’s now been one month since assistant Sandusky County prosecutor Norman Solze said his office was still reviewing its investigation of Patrol Sgt. Ricky Vitte Jr. for the alleged incidents.

“As far as I know, we haven’t come to a complete conclusion on this case,” Solze said Feb. 28, declining further detail.

Since then, Solze has refused to respond to three separate inquiries asking for further clarification on the case’s status. He has, however, responded to multiple questions regarding other Sandusky County cases.

Sandusky County deputies received a complaint in November alleging Vitte twice masturbated with the child while the pair watched porn videos.

Sandusky County sheriff’s detective Sean O’Connell never interviewed Vitte during the ensuing investigation and wrote in a report that the prosecutor’s office declined to pursue charges due to a lack of physical evidence and the length of time that had elapsed since the alleged encounters.

Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt later told the Register the “main” reason he did not charge Vitte was because he could argue that he was teaching the boy about sex.

Stierwalt took heat from many in the community after making that decision, refusing to clarify, expand or explain further that reasoning. He has refused to return phone calls or respond to written requests. 

On Jan. 22, Stierwalt took a phone call from someone he thought was Vitte. The phone call was recorded by the person impersonating Vitte, who used a computer program that disguises the caller's telephone number.  

Stierwalt talks with the caller In a friendly tone and tells him all they could do was "ignore" the firestorm of criticism.

"I've been called a motherf*&#er, FOB, son-of-a-bitch motherf*&#er," Stierwalt comiserated with the caller he believed to be Vitte. "I get emails. I'm a little tired of it too."  

Listen to Stierwalt's call with 'Vitte'

Solze would not give any hint what further information might be under review when he commented Feb. 28, and he, too, has gone silent since suggesting it was still under review.

In January, Vitte’s attorney, Dean Henry, told the Register that Vitte denied the allegations and is completely innocent.

Vitte’s Patrol supervisors initially stated they would review the specifics of the allegations against Vitte, but then quickly backpedaled, suggesting they never intended to review Stierwalt’s decision, or whether the allegations merited further internal investigation. 

Because Vitte was not charged in the local investigation, he was reinstated to full service without further questions, they said. 

John Born, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the agency that oversees the Patrol, has refused to respond to questions about the Patrol’s personnel practices. He did apparently whisper instructions to a spokesperson who was speaking with a Register reporter and editor in February, but refused to identify himself during that conversation.

The spokesperson provided a disjointed explanation for the Patrol’s decision. 

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