Patrol quits trooper sex probe

Department of Public Safety spokesman says state has no information about trooper's alleged sex lesson with pre-teen boy
Courtney Astolfi
Feb 12, 2014

 

In an about-face, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said Tuesday it will not investigate allegations Trooper Ricky Vitte Jr. masturbated with a pre-teen boy.

John Born, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Highway Patrol, dodged questions about the Patrol's standards and practices vetting un-proved allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual misconduct and other alleged misdeeds by troopers.

Born instructed a spokesman to respond to the Register's inquiry. The responses from the department's communications director, Joseph L. Andrews, however, were initially murky, and later shifted.

“It would be inappropriate for the Department of Public Safety to respond further until the Highway Patrol completes its look into the matter,” Andrews wrote in reply to the Register on Monday.

But a day later, on Tuesday, he shifted gears and stated the Patrol does not know anything about the allegations against Vitte.   

"No complaint or allegation of misconduct concerning Trooper Vitte has been received by the Ohio State Highway Patrol," Andrews said. "No criminal charges have been filed in the case that precipitated the placement of Trooper Vitte on administrative duty."

Vitte was briefly sidelined and put on administrative duty after the allegations against him were made in November.

The Patrols "is bound by Ohio law, policy and procedure, work rules and contractual obligations," Andrews wrote. 

In a subsequent telephone call later on Tuesday seeking clarification, Andrews declined to discuss those rules or the Patrol's practices and standards when reviewing criminal allegations against officers that don't result in criminal charges. 

He also said comments from Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston last week and earlier this month stating the Vitte investigation was being reviewed by the Patrol were incorrect. When asked if the Patrol still intended to conduct an investigation, Andrews said no.

“We have not received anything that would prompt us to do so,” he said.

Late last year, a boy told social workers that Vitte showed him pornography and masturbated with him on two occaisions five years ago, when he was a pre-teen. Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt declined to bring the case before a grand jury — mainly, he said — because Vitte might have argued an affirmative defense that he was teaching the boy how to masturbate.

Stierwalt has refused to clarify or offer further comment about his decision, or provide notes of his conversations with Vitte, or his attorney, Dean Henry, in response to public records requests from the Register. Henry told the Register that Vitte has been falsely accused. 

Vitte was never interviewed by the Sandusky County sheriff's detective who conducted the investigation. He was driving a state police cruiser when he fled an initial stop to question him made by a deputy and detetctive Sean O'Connel, and he refused to talk with them after the chase ended. 

Hello, is this Tom?

Andrews said director Born had reviewed the inquiry and questions from the Register but refused to respond to them. Born was appointed director by Gov. John Kasich in July. He previously served as superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Other recent decisions involving Highway Patrol personnel have focussed attention on the agency's practices and standards.

Trooper Shane Johnson, 43, who has has been on paid sick leave from the Toledo post since August, was arraigned in December on a first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence charge. Patrol Sgt. Eric Gonzalez was demoted last year and transferred to the Fremont Highway Patrol post after he allegedly gave the Perrysburg Police wrong information in filing a report about alleged child abuse.

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When asked if it was the Patrol's practice to not review allegations beyond local criminal investigations, Andrews said “when warranted, they would.”

Andrews declined to discuss whether allegations a trooper masturbated with a child would warrant a further look, or whether domestic violence or child abuse would warrant a review by the Patrol. 

“The answer that I gave you is the answer of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. That's all I'm going to say,” Andrews said, insisting it was a responsive reply before abruptly ending the conversation by hanging up the phone.

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Comments

Ctwhalers

Can not believe this. They saying its all right for them to do this but if it was regular people we would be in trouble.

Darwin's choice

The blue shield.

Welcome to Amerika....

Babo

Wow. Maybe it's time for people harmed by Stierwalt and tired of his covering up for LEO's to consider filing a Complaint for his Removal from Office for misconduct and or malfeasance. RC 309.05.

Wes Poole

"No complaint or allegation of misconduct concerning Trooper Vitte has been received by the Ohio State Highway Patrol," Andrews said. This is pretty straight forward. The State Patrol will not an start an investigation based just on news articles and blog comments. Either Sandusky County charges him or the child's mother files a complaint with OSHP. This is frustrating to watch but overall it is a good process requiring government to have a formal reason for taking action against a citizen.

Cowboy

It's time for the Attorney General's office to investigate this! And anyone involved with the coverup needs to go down with him! Maybe they can all be put in the same cell and have classes on how to properly masturbate!

justice_forall2014

So they are throwing Anne Ralston under the bus then? That is the way this reads. I hope that everyone starts (if not already) to see the power these people hold and do something to help stop this from happening ever again!

Peninsula Pundit

The patrol may have received no complaint or allegation, but they are an investigative unit, are they not?
The patrol doesn't do anything at all unless there is a complaint or allegation? How, then, do they bust all those drugs on the turnpike?
And Born was in charge of the OSP when these things happened, so if he investigates, he casts aspersions on his own leadership.
Maybe the helpful patrolman will help an underage niece discover the joys of self-pleasure next.
And according to Mr.Born, if no one complains, it's all good.
The cops are rapidly depleting the good coin the public has given them as 'heroes.'

Peninsula Pundit

Another related case is the local cop who was busted for child porn, but an 'investigation' by the cops revealed all the girls depicted in the porn were 18 years or older. How Fortunate!
Now THERE'S an investigation!
Can you imagine the cops contacting all those girls and asking them to produce ID?
They've seem to set a precedent. Now when any pervert is busted, the cops will also have to give the defendant the same courtesy of making sure no one was under 18 before going to trial.

dorothy gale

I am disgusted but not surprised.

BabyMomma

That's why they call them State D!cks

SeenSome

Hate to see all LE judged by others misdeeds. There are many good officers out there.

Teeter's picture
Teeter

Commissioner Poole:

I appreciate your position given your long and outstanding career in law enforcement however, please consider several points.

1. Social Services presented "something" to Stierwalt who declined to prosecute. Did that document, complaint or report make its way up the food chain or was it stalled at the local level?

2. Are law enforcement officers held to a higher standard above those under their control? The very people we teach our children to respect, admire, trust and run to in times of crisis must be held to such a standard otherwise as a society we have no use for them, the corner grocery store clerk will do. Had this allegation been directed at anyone else, save a LEO, perception is that they'd been jailed already.

3. NO ONE except the initial social worker gave a darn about this child, the VICTIM! From the onset, the response has been all about the "Trooper" and the failure of those to supervise, discipline or hold him accountable in any way. Finally, the ultimate insult and injustice here is the failure of those to take responsibility and even investigate, the response provided was horse hockey and we all know it....sounded good though and almost believable we're it not for the fact that there's a social services report somewhere which should have been forwarded to the Office of the Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Of course, that's not current policy....perhaps it should be going forward. This is disgusting and sick and Ohioans deserve better, our children certainly do!

Diedre Cole

deertracker

Agreed!

Cowboy

Protected by the blue shield again! Glad we could pay for your mastabatory fantasy! New motto, "coming to serve all ages"

KURTje

John Born you work for US. You are Ricky are @^&%$ imo. Here I sit on the pooper - giving birth to another State Trooper.

Ralph J.

After you gave birth to another state trooper, did you remember to wipe your Ricky?

Wes Poole

Teeter, I agree with all your observations and the sentiments of many commenting on this article. State authorities found a justification to duck and avoid this and took it. My comments address how to get the OSHP to conduct an investigation not what I think about their current actions. Perhaps the Social workers can forward their report to the patrol. There may be a reason why they did not.

DGMutley

The mother and child and the social workers pursued and followed all the correct procedures to protect this child and to bring the trooper to justice. Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt determined that the case couldn't be prosecuted for lack of evidence.

I'm interested in how Stierwalt came to the conclusion, "because Vitte might have argued an affirmative defense that he was teaching the boy how to masturbate" if there was no evidence. Or, maybe he claims he didn't make that statement.

Btw, I was under the impression that the OSP investigates all complaints made against their officers.

Ralph J.

Kind of like the fox investigating missing chickens in the hen house.

John Harville

The blue curtain holds.

what the?

Sounds to me like the Highway Patrol can't HANDle this investigation!

queenjhb

The victim told a social worker about this, he has not moved on from this, he will need counseling , Justice would help him heal from this , therefore justice has not been achieved for this child. Shame on all that help this creep get away with this .Ohio dept. of public safety?

DGMutley

From the Application Process to become a Ohio State Trooper:
Background Investigation:
...
The following occurrences in your background could result in rejection of your application:
8. Have you ever been a participant in any of the following acts?

A. Sexual relations with a child or a person of a childlike mind.
B. Molestation
C. Voyeurism
D. Incest
E. Forced a person into a sexual act
F. Coerced a person into a sexual act by intimidation, intoxication, deception

9. Have you ever been convicted of domestic violence or a domestic violence related offense?

Answering yes to any of the questions presented above will NOT result in the rejection of your application at this time. However, if you decide to continue with the selection process, your application will likely be rejected after an official review of your application packet by the Highway Patrol Screening Committee. You may decide to either continue processing and be rejected at that time, or you may voluntarily withdraw from the selection process by notifying a Recruitment officer. This is not an all inclusive list, as there may be other reasons your application could be rejected.
...

Babo

The Ohio Inspector General has jurisdiction to review the failure to investigate by the OHP and or the Department of Public Safety.
http://watchdog.ohio.gov/

DGMutley

I would expect that the trooper would disciplined according to this excerpt from the contract between The State of Ohio and The Ohio Troopers Association:

18.10 Off-Duty Status
Disciplinary action will not be taken against any employee for acts committed
while off duty except for just cause.
18.11 Anonymous Complaints
When an anonymous complaint, where the complaint, if true, would not or could
not lead to criminal charges, is made against a member and no corroborative evidence is
obtained through a prompt investigation by management, the complaint shall be classified
as unfounded. No disciplinary action may be brought as the result of unfounded
complaints.
The complaint form distributed and posted on the website will include a reference
to ORC §2921.15.

----
Here is the link for The Ohio State Patrol Complaint Form http://statepatrol.ohio.gov/doc/...

if you would like to file a formal complaint.

If you choose to file an anonymous complaint you can use the address found on the above form. According to the troopers' contract with the State, the State will act on anonymous complaints as described above.