No need to know

Ohio State Patrol can't do anything unless trooper's alleged sex lesson with boy results in charges
Courtney Astolfi
Feb 22, 2014

The Ohio Department of Public Safety muddied the waters again last week attempting to clarify previous statements about how the state Highway Patrol responded to allegations a Patrol officer masturbated with a preteen boy.

Department spokesman Joseph Andrews said Thursday the Patrol won't look further into Sgt. Rick Vitte Jr.'s personal life unless new information comes to light. The Patrol will rely on Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt's decision not to pursue charges, he said.

There are no concrete disciplinary rules that dictate what the Patrol must do when an employee is accused of a crime but never charged with it. Decisions whether to pursue an internal investigation are made on a case-by-case basis, Andrews said.

But he later back-pedaled.

“Look, if there's no charges filed, there's nothing that we can do,” Andrews said.

Vitte's attorney told the Register in January his client was absolutely innocent of the charges and completely denies the allegations. But neither Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt nor the Patrol will say whether Vitte was cleared during the investigation.

Andrews refused to answer the question, instead he repeatedly explained that charges weren't filed.

A teenage boy told Erie County child welfare caseworkers late last year that Vitte showed him pornography and masturbated with him on two occasions five years ago. The allegations were referred to the Sandusky County Sheriff's Office for a criminal investigation.

Sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell never interviewed Vitte when he investigated and Stierwalt later declined bringing it before a grand jury, mainly, he said, because he might not be able to convict Vitte because the Patrol officer could argue he was teaching the boy to masturbate.

Stierwalt only considered charging Vitte with disseminating matter harmful to juveniles; he did not consider other charges.

It's not clear whether the Patrol ever asked Vitte about the allegations, either, and Andrews said he would seek to determine that but later did not respond to inquiries from the Register.

The public records related to Stierwalt's decision give no indication whether they sought to determine if what the boy alleged occurred actually did occur, and whether Vitte was cleared.

Hello, is this Tom? (Recorded phone call includes objectionable language. Listen at your own discretion.)

O'Connell intended to interview Vitte at the Toledo Post of the Highway Patrol and arranged for that with the Post's commander. But Vitte unexpectedly left work early that day, calling his wife and asking her whether she had reported the alleged abuse, and whether she had talked with a child welfare caseworker.

It's not clear how Vitte learned an investigation was started, just before the interview with O'Connell was to have occurred.

His wife called O'Connell, who was with the caseworker, and they instead went to Vitte's home and parked nearby anticipating his arrival. Vitte, who was driving a state police cruiser, saw the sheriff's deputy cruiser and pulled away before turning into the driveway of his home, leading a chase.

Andrews said the Patrol was unconcerned Vitte sped away from a stop driving a state police cruiser.

“The allegation of a related (car) chase was not substantiated," he said. "A total time of 19 seconds and an approximate distance of less than one mile elapsed from the activation of the deputy's cruiser lights until Sgt. Vitte stopped.”

O'Connell explicitly states in his report, however, that Vitte used his Patrol cruiser to flee from law enforcement.

Andrews declined to comment how long a car chase must last before it would reach the level where charges would be considered, or require disciplinary action by the Patrol.

“He wasn't charged with anything,” he said.

When the Register talked with Andrews on Thursday, a second voice could be heard coaching him through some of the answers he provided to the questions he was asked. Andrews did not respond when asked later who that person was.

Department of Public Safety Director John Born, meanwhile, has refused to respond the Register's request for an interview. 

Click here to read related articles

Note: This post has been modified to reflect the call was made to O'Connell after Vitte left work early. 

Comments

OMGreally

hmmm next time I go to get pulled over, I am not going to stop after they activiate lights...then I will drive 19 more seconds and less then a mile and see what they do to me...bet it wont be..oh it is ok...no biggie

justice_forall2014

And Vitte just provided you with legal grounds to stand on for that charge! So correct me if I am wrong but O'Connell reported he fled in his patrol issued vehicle but the Ohio Highway Patrol is basically throwing O'Connell under the bus and saying it wasn't fleeing. In a previous article Ann Ralston had said the Highway Patrol was investigating Vitte, but it was then said there was never an investigation. So in a sense they threw her under the bus too. Stand up officers you will be next to be discredited just to save Vitte's behind!

Truth2u

They would do a Rodney King on you for sure!

Im so disgusted in the State Patrol I wrote the Governor, who I voted for. That arrogant a*s won't even reply to emails.

This state is going to h*ll quickly, the courts in Erie County to me are corrupt, law enforcement has two sets of rules for citizens and the good ol' boys, and a Governor and attorney General that do little. DeWine is PURE politics, I voted for him but never will again, the only thing he wants to do do is threaten small businesses for filing issues.

sandusky2012

im just wondering why jobs and family services didnt file anything

rbenn

If this would have been just an average citizen he would be in prison. What a freakin joke. OSP should be ashamed

justice_forall2014

So fleeing in a state issued vehicle provided by tax payers and Vitte's employer is not a chargeable offense? And if Vitte denies all allegations then what is the affirmative defense? Am I the only one confused on this one? Why no charges for domestic violence or child endangerment from punching the one child that was stated in a previous article? Another question to ask is, if he wasn't fleeing then where was he going if he wasn't going to his residence? From my understanding from the articles, he was done with his shift. If he was done with his shift, isn't he only authorised to use a state vehicle to travel to and from his residence?

YoMamma

Double standard!

queenjhb

ole boys club, maybe they know where each others skeletons are hidden. Protect & serve, oops, protect each other no matter what we have or haven't done.....

sandusky2012

maybe the reason he isnt charged is because vitte agreed to show Department spokesman Joseph Andrews and Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt how to show their kids to masterbate?

hazelwood

You know, no body taught me, I figured it out all by myself. What a bullsh!t explanation and/or defense.

Stop It

No one has to teach anyone unless they are sick garbage child abusers. It's natural.

thinkagain

So that's how you got your nickname…from mommy always yelling stop it.

gennycreamale

Ahhhh read section number nine in the code of ethics and oath of office....conduct themselves properly in public and private life including morality....think that meets a violation of the oath of office.. http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/4501:2... what happened to the osp being the top LE agency in the state? Google osp in the news..several strange creepy things going on right now

sandman312

This story is becoming an obsession to the SR, just like the Limberios ordeal. You are the only media outlet continuing to "report" on this story. This isn't really even a "local" Sandusky issue. I don't understand Westerhold's anti Sandusky County Government stance. Sandusky County seems to be the only neighboring county to Erie in which you regularly do investigative reporting. When is the last time you invested this much time or investigative resources into an issue in Lorain County, for instance? Is Sandusky County where your drivers license suspension was issued through? Does Overmeyer not kiss your butt like Sigsworth? What is it, Matt?

Truth2u

Without the press 'pressing' for justice the government will not provide it. The Press prevents the government from creating an oppression, dictatorship, dynasty. Its so important that the press is protected by our Constitution. I personally wish the press would do more of this and forget the typical pasting from news sharing agencies. I find it a breath of fresh air that the Register is actually investigating instead of reading other papers and reprinting them.

And with the Limberios case, I'm not satisfied with what DeWine and the government determined, still too many issues on how he shot himself. I do not trust DeWine, I view him as a pure politician, and yes, I admit I voted for the creep.

Jmschmidt812

There's another story on the SR about the sheriff in Athens county. Half of the story is about the trouble the sheriff is facing and the other half is about the investigation into the burdine case. Seems they're finding stories to throw sandusky county into, even tho it has no relevance to the headline whatsoever.

Matt Westerhold's picture
Matt Westerhold

It seems obvious that news is related, Jmchmidt, since it was DeWine who investigated the Athens County sheriff and it's DeWine who is currently nvestigating the Sandusky County Sheriff's Office with regard to Burdine. It's surprising you can't see the "relevance" and your suggestion there is none is not accurate. Here is a link to that article, Chief justice appoints corruption board.

Jmschmidt812

Are you misunderstanding my comment? The HEADLINE has nothing in it that pertains to Sandusky County. There has been no formal charges of corruption in Sandusky County, as much as you'd like to make that happen, it just hasn't happened. And in my opinion there won't be any charges related to corruption at the Sandusky county sheriffs office.

Matt Westerhold's picture
Matt Westerhold

Here is a link to news articles about the death of Craig Burdine, Jmschmidt, for which there is an ongoing criminal investigation by the Ohio Attorney General's office. It's the only criminal investigation ever conducted and it did not start until six years after Burdine died minutes after being dragged into the Sandusky County Jail severely injured on Aug. 11, 2007. It would appear a criminal invetigation of the allegations brought forward by Burdine's family against sheriff's jail employees and Fremont police officers would represent corrupt practices if they were shown to be true. You can't see the connection because you don't appear willing to see it, IMO. 

Jmschmidt812

Maybe this is why you're a reporter and I'm not. I'm not going to assume there is corruption without evidence or charges of such. I choose to disagree with your opinion

Matt Westerhold's picture
Matt Westerhold

I stated if the allegations were shown to be true. There's no assumption. 

DGMutley

sandman312,

This Ricky Vitte Jr affair doesn't bother you?

Truth2u

Would someone please explain who recorded the telephone conversation and how the Register obtained it?

Matt Westerhold's picture
Matt Westerhold

Here is a link to that news article. 

Truth2u

Thank you for the link, Matt.

Jmschmidt812

In my younger days I ran from the osp. I wasn't charged with fleeing beause I stopped my car within one mile of the lights and siren being activated. That's the way it was explained to me. If you go more than that mile you can be charged with fleeing and eluding. So take it for what it's worth.

kURTje

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

YoMamma

Move along, there's nothing here to see!

John Harville

What can we expect from a county in which the Board of Elections allows a woman to file a petition "to be a candidate" in a primary as her husband, State Rep. Rex Damschroder, tells media "our attorneys have assured us it's legal" for her to run as a 'placeholder' and then, if successful in gaining the nomination, resign and have the Party place him on the ballot. There is a law against attorneys suorning perjury. If a non-Damschroder had failed to sign petitions or had signatures that did not qualify, s/he would not be given a second chance.
Additionally, County Republican Chairman Justin Smith said he had no problem with inserting Rex on the November ballot. If a protest is filed with the Board of Elections, there will be a problem since Smith is one of the four members on that Board.

John Harville

This is related to the trooper story because it's one more example of how 'anything goes' for the right people in Sandusky County.

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