State director killed sex probe

Kasich's safety commissioner refuses further comment
Register
Feb 15, 2014

Ohio public safety director John Born continued to dodge questions about the state agency's personnel practices Friday.

Months after investigations into a range of allegations from domestic violence to child abuse and falsification against three State Highway Patrol troopers surfaced, Born's office has shut down all comment.

The last response to an inquiry was Tuesday from his communications director, Joe Andrews. 

"No complaint or allegation of misconduct concerning Trooper (Ricky) Vitte (Jr.) 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."

A day earlier Andrews said the Patrol was reviewing information it had related to the complaint against Vitte. 

Vitte allegedly watched porn and masturbated with a pre-teen boy. Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt decided Jan. 10 not to file any charges, mainly, he later said, because Vitte could argue an affirmative defense he was teaching the boy to masturbate. Stierwalt has refused clarify or offer further comment on his decision, and he has failed to respond to a public records request for notes in the case file that might provide more information.

An Erie County child welfare caseworker asked for a criminal investigation after the agency learned of the allegations. The boy's mother told the caseworker she confronted Vitte and he admitted to her the incidents with the boy occurred, according to Sandusky County sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell. But Vitte was never interviewed by the sheriff's office during the criminal investigation. O'Connell wrote his report based on information provided by the child welfare agency.

When O'Connell and a deputy sought to question Vitte, he sped away from them driving a state police cruiser. He refused to talk with them after the chase ended. Vitte was not cited for any infractions as a result of the chase. 

His attorney, Dean Henry, said Vitte has been falsely accused and denies every allegation made. Henry said he conferenced with Stierwalt about possible defense strategies — but not the affirmative defense Stierwalt cited — prior to Stierwalt's decision against pursuing charges.  

Born was appointed director by Gov. John Kasich in July. He previously served as superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He reviewed questions submitted to him by the Register concerning the Patrol's personnel policies but declined to respond to them.

A shifting leadership hierarchy in the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Patrol, and other recent personnel decisions regarding Vitte and two other Patrol troopers has focused attention on the agency's personnel 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.

Vitte also was accused of a domestic violence incident in 2003 in which he allegedly beat a 5-year-old and head-butted the child's mother after she became upset. He pleaded out to a reduced charge of child endangering and was returned to full service as a trooper immediately after the case was resolved. In January, he was again returned to full service immediately after Stierwalt opted against filing charges.

Born, Andrews and Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston have all refused to comment on whether it is a violation of Patrol policy for a trooper driving a state police cruiser to evade a police stop by another agency. Andrews also on Tuesday said information he and Ralston had provided the Register earlier about the status of a review of the Vitte complaint was incorrect.    

In 2010, then-Gov. Ted Strickland ordered the director of the Department of Public Safety to fire two Ohio State Patrol troopers after the Register reported an incident in which one of the troopers dressed in a hooded makeshift KKK uniform while on duty. The second tooper snapped cell phone photos of the costume and texted them to other Patrol personnel as a joke.

The officers were later reinstated after arbitration, but one was later fired again after he attempted to blame a passenger in his car for a DUI crash the trooper caused. 

Born did not respond to a request on Wednesday for an interview. Andrews did respond to a followup request on Friday but the email he sent was not responsive to the questions he was asked.  

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NOTE: This post has been modified to reflect that Andrews did respond to an inquiry on Feb. 14. 

 

Comments

Dcfred20036

Maybe the Feds need to look into the case: if the trooper had any internet computer communication with the pre-teen re the so-called, alleged sex lesson, this may actually be a violation of federal law.

Truth2u

WATCHING PORN WITH A MINOR IS A FELONY !!!
Salary of $83,000, had protection and restraining orders against him, spanked his 5 year old until he bled for wetting the bed, head bunted his wife, and he's still carrying a gun! This video is revealing! Share it on your facebook!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4...

Would be great to ask his father if he was till a trooper if he would arrest his son for this.. Maybe the apple didn't fall too far from the tree? I sure would like to know.

lugnut2511

This is some serious BS! Our government is covering up for one another like they're is no corruption. every single day there's some politician in the paper about doing this and doing that, most of it being caught up in some illegal activity, yet the investigation always seems to just stop, without cause.

rbenn

I received a response from Mike Dewine on this, basically he said he wont review this and believes the county is doing a fine job. So he basically said he don't give a rats butt and move along.

justice_forall2014

I also received an email from the AG office. The majority of the email details how much of a family man he is and then went on to say basically they have no power over the prosecutors decision. Also said their job is to do an investigation only if requested by the prosecutor or law enforcement.

Babo

Actually AG DeWine appears to be misleading people. Any person has the right to file a Complaint with his office concerning alleged public corruption and if the County prosecutor is implicated (and in this case he allegedly appears to be involved in obstructing justice); the AG basically has the duty to act as special prosecutor.
See RC 177.02 and RC 177.03.

However, I don't think DeWine's office can be trusted to do a good job given how they failed to find any law enforcement misconduct in other Sandusky County cases and I don't have much hope they will do a good job in the Burdine case. There are just too many friendships between AG's office and local LEO's. It's really a matter for the Feds. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/inve....

Ohio's system of home rule and the power of county prosecutors and Sheriffs makes it very difficult to obtain state public corruption investigations as they are usually inmplicated. It's much easier in states with the District Attorney system and a statewide police force.

DGMutley

Babo,

Isn't this a conflict of interest for Stierwalt since Vitte's attorney is also his attorney? Seems to me that Stierwalt should have recused himself from the case BEFORE he dismissed it.

Babo

Wow..You're right! I missed that conflict. Isn't it also a conflict for Henry since he's representing Sandusky County?

So another state agency that can be contacted is the Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Ohio for grievances on Stierwalt and Henry. Key point here is how these two lawyers are diminishing the public's respect for the legal system by their conflicts of interest and appearance of improprieties.

It would be helpful to me if anyone recalls the name of the following public officials/LEO's:

1) Fremont City councilman who was busted by the Feds (I think) for child porn in about 2002?

2) Name of a Sandusky County LEO (either sheriff office, local police) who was defended by Dean Henry in the early 2000's for child sexual abuse. (I think he solicited young boys in a park).

3) Name of the law enforcement officer in Seneca County that Dean henry defended involving domestic violence abuse of women, also in the early to mid 2000's.

4) Also did Henry defend Weldon Neff and what was he and what did he do?

Ralph J.

1) Fremont City councilman who was busted by the Feds (I think) for child porn in about 2002?
http://goo.gl/BJFl5W
http://goo.gl/n3uA1r
2) Name of a Sandusky County LEO (either sheriff office, local police) who was defended by Dean Henry in the early 2000's for child sexual abuse. (I think he solicited young boys in a park).
http://goo.gl/3SbD3b
4) Also did Henry defend Weldon Neff and what was he and what did he do?
http://goo.gl/uv3jsb
http://goo.gl/vA7uUr
https://groups.google.com/forum/...

Babo

@ Ralph: Thank you very much for these links.

sash

Confused here. Are you saying Henry is Stierwalt's personal attorney?

Babo

Henry represented/defended Sandusky County in cases filed by the Limberios family in which Stierwalt was sued or had to recuse himself. So yes, Henry did represent Stierwalt and may still represent him.

lugnut2511

Sorry, double post

justice_forall2014

The questions to ask now are, why is this being ignored? And what needs to happen before Vitte is removed? How long will the Ohio State Highway Patrol tolerate allowing the actions of this man to DESTROY any and all respect the patrol so desires. How can other troopers hold their heads high, while standing next to this man. Maybe the patrol needs to rewrite their Core Values!

norcalbuckeye

Pedofile/child molesting piece of garbage needs to treated like the perverted criminal he is. 150 years ago he woulda got whats comin to him. Thats complete BS that these flakey pieces of trash get away with this because they have a badge. This sh** ought to be on 60 Minutes.

It's no flippin wonder people have 0 respect for the law.

Not all cops are bad , but when they are, and get away with it spite , disrespect, and disgust grow.

eightballcuet1

"Vitte allegedly watched porn and masturbated with a pre-teen boy. Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt decided Jan. 10 not to file any charges, mainly, he later said, because Vitte could argue an affirmative defense he was teaching the boy to masturbate." So will this be the excuse pedophiles will use now when accused of molesting pre-teens?

Gardenman

I think this OSP trooper will do it again. They all do and this is what incident number 2 and that maybe only the two of many others that were never caught or reported. Given all the heat on this OSP will probably transfer this guy out of the area to SE or SW Ohio. Again when the heat gets hot enough this is what OSP always does. They want them out of town and away from the media's attention.

It's obvious this John Born is too involved and too much connected to the OSP to do a fair and honest investigation into this trooper. He is covering up what is quite clear to the majority of citizens. In reality all he has done is to downgrade and blemish every state trooper in the State of Ohio. Their reputation, honor and dignity has been damaged thanks to his actions.

Next time you or I see a OSP trooper we will wonder is this the guy who masterbates in front of children and gets away with it. Every state trooper in this area is now negatively affected. Quite honestly the troopers themselves should work to clean this up and not allow it to tarnish their careers as well.

I still believe sooner or later this Trooper Vitte will do it again,,,,,,they all do....and maybe next time John Born will either be out of a job with a new Governor or be unable to cover it up.

DGMutley

I think it is a question of how long Born and Kasich can stand the embarrassment. They have to be getting considerable heat from the ranks and especially from the troopers' wives!

justice_forall2014

You would think there would be more Troopers who would stand up and demand Vitte be removed. The respect that most of them deserve is being destroyed. Sure must be a slap in the face to have to stand next to a man such as this.

Gardenman

I would agree with you.

How many of the OSP troopers here in Erie, Huron or Sandusky County are comfortable to let their young son or daughter or grand children spend the day with Trooper Vitte unsupervised?

I think a very valid question that should appear on the front page of papers across the state is: John Born are you comfortable letting your young son or daughter or grand children spend the day with Trooper Vitte? If Born is so confident this trooper is fit for duty then lets see him put his young relatives at this troopers home for a day unsupervised. If he is NOT then that is the clear answer for him on what to do.

Mr. D

Cookie cutter mold for troopers. . . Cold, can do no wrong, does what he does because "he can", not accountable to the public, 4 pinches a day keeps the sergeant away. . .

dorothy gale

Disgusting.

Steve P

I am certainly not defending the trooper, I think he should be fired. The patrol's lack of action has alot to due with the power of the public sector unions, remember that if you voted to repeal SB5 folks.

The Big Dog's back

Nothing to do with it pooh.

Steve P

Not surprised that piddle would deflect the unions involvement for this guy considering piddle only survived as a political/union hack.

xtensionofme

I don't understand how this creep is still wearing the uniform & carrying a firearm. How can I be expected to trust, much less respect, LE officers when they allow this kind of disgusting behavior to continue?

Babo

Complaints concerning Mr. Born as Director of Public Safety may be submitted to the Ohio Inspector General at http://watchdog.ohio.gov.

Also because Mr. Born is an appointee of Governor Kasich, media and concerned citizens could contact his office to express concerns and displeasure. http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Con....

Lastly, the FBI has jurisdiction to investigate any abuses or violations of constitutional or statutory rights by any state officer acting under color of law. There's plenty of evidence that strongly suggests the OHP tolerates violations of citizens' civil rights by troopers. Also, there's plenty of evidence that indicates Prosecutor Stierwalt is failing to protect citizens from abuses.
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/inve...

Steve P

Are you depending on a U.S. Justice Department and Federal government that recently has tampered with privacy and other rights of citizens, good luck on that. Who protects us from the feds?

Babo

I understand your point, but we as citizens have the right to make them do their jobs. If a complaint is made to them, the FBI has to act on it, either up or down and if the media is involved and comments directed to Congresswoman Kaptur, Congressman Latta, (election year) and Senators Portman and Brown it will be hard for them to say no.

Steve P

I agree with you on most of your pints, but where is the "color of the law" might be difficult to link it to his on job performance, also the politicians you named usually don't confront the public sector unions.

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