Grand jury indicts Vitte

Ohio Patrol officer denies he showed pornography to a boy and masturbated with him
Courtney Astolfi
Apr 10, 2014

An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper accused of masturbating with a pre-teen boy while the pair watched pornography was indicted this week by a Sandusky County grand jury, months after officials dropped the investigation and said they would notpursue charges.

Sgt. Ricky Vitte Jr., 34, of the 900 block of County Road 42 in Helena, was charged with disseminating matter harmful to juveniles — one felony count and one misdemeanor.

If convicted of the fourth-degree felony, he could serve six to 18 months in prison and pay a $5,000 fine. If convicted on the misdemeanor, he could see up to 180 days behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

The Highway Patrol placed Vitte on paid administrative leave Wednesday morning, after they learned of the indictment. They have also launched an administrative investigation into the alleged sex acts, said Sgt. Vincent Shirey, an assistant Patrol spokesman.

The goal of the investigation: “Just to do a thorough investigation on the allegations and see what’s true and what’s false and what exactly happened,” Shirey said.

Sandusky County assistant prosecutor Norman Solze offered few additional details on the decision to pursue charges, other than saying Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt was the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Solze added, however, that the decision to present the case to a grand jury was made collaboratively by employees in the prosecutor’s office, and not by Stierwalt himself. 

The indictment comes after about three months of conflicting information presented by public officials associated with the case.

In January, Stierwalt said he declined to charge the trooper because Vitte could argue he was teaching the boy about sex. In a police report, however, Sandusky County detective Sean O’Connell said Stierwalt’s reasoning for not charging Vitte was due to the length of time that had elapsed since the alleged incident, and the lack of physical evidence.

Ohio State Highway Patrol employees had also offered murky answers about the overall case, as well as the Patrol’s stance on Vitte’s employment and the status of an administrative investigation.

In late February, Ohio Department of Public Safety spokesman Joseph Andrews said there was nothing the Patrol could do in Vitte’s case, unless charges were filed.

— RECENT ALLEGATIONS

Sandusky County deputies began investigating Vitte late last year, after the boy and his mother spoke to Erie County Job and Family Services.

On two occasions about five years ago, Vitte allegedly showed the child porn videos while he and the boy masturbated in the same room, the boy, now a teen, told social workers. When confronted with the allegations, Vitte told the boy’s mother he was teaching him about alternatives to sexual intercourse, according to O’Connell’s report.

A brief criminal investigation ensued, during which O’Connell never interviewed Vitte.

O’Connell did, however, go to Vitte’s home in an attempt to interview him, but when Vitte arrived in his Patrol cruiser and spotted the deputy’s cruiser parked outside, he sped off, the report said.

Vitte allegedly led O’Connell on a mile-long chase before pulling over and saying he needed to talk with his attorney, Dean Henry, the report said.

For his part, Henry has been working with O’Connell and Stierwalt for more than a year as a special prosecutor for the Sandusky County prosecutor’s office.

— RAP SHEET

This recent indictment is not Vitte’s first run-in with the law outside of his duties as a trooper.

In 2003 he was charged with domestic violence after he allegedly beat a 5-year-old boy until his buttocks were bruised and bleeding, then head-butted the boy’s mother when she became upset, according to a police report. 

Henry successfully defended Vitte in that case, pleading down his domestic violence charge to a lesser charge of child endangering.

Word of Vitte’s violent tendencies resurfaced late last year when social workers spoke with his children. The children told investigators they saw their father punch holes in walls and doors during violent fits of rage. At other times, they watched Vitte drag their mother into another room by her arm and yell at her, the report stated.

Comments

AnAmerican

It's about time!

I feel sorry for the Mrs.

A straight man, and/or a man not "interested" in young ones, would never, ever be involved in something like this. I hope his family can recognize the situation for what it is and can move forward.

bnjjad

Please don't bring straight/gay into this. And if you didn't mean it that way, hopefully someone else doesn't go that route either.

AnAmerican

jeesh...I could care a less if someone is gay or straight, obviously my point was he is married to a female and was involved with a same sex child.

Peninsula Pundit

Dash your hope against the cold shore of reality.
The connection is clear and irrefutable.
Sick is sick.
Or is it your claim that this nascent relationship could turn into something 'beautiful' in a few years?
I'm sure you would find support with NAMBLA.

whattheBucks

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

AnAmerican

The history of violence is incredible, how did this person even remain a state employee all this time?

deertracker

He is still a paid state employee. SMDH!

AnAmerican

You are right, and it is disgusting how our tax dollars are utilized.

DGMutley

Highly paid.

Truth2u

Matt, you better not speed, you'll get more punishment than this guy has, and make SURE you stay out of Sandusky County!
Imagine those arrested by this creep just finding out about his actions. Do you think they may become upset with such hypocrisy of this Government, arresting the little people for going 75 in a 65 and then the Patrol lets their own molest kids and does nothing?

It doesn't take much to know this guy is guilty, speeding away from an investigator speaks volumes. He won't get much from this because he's part of the 'good o'l boys'. REAL men wearing the badge would have DEMAND an investigation or cuffed him themselves long before now, but strangely his fellow workers have said NOTHING and done NOTHING. It disgraces mocks the names of those who died in the line of duty who believed in what they did. Doesn't speak well of the State patrol or Sheriff who KNEW what was going on and didn't put it in overdrive to dig into the facts and get this slime behind bars!

AnAmerican

"NO government agency should belong to a Union, they are suppose to work for US, and we deserve better."

Nor should any government, especially federal, be endorsed or supplied with millions of dollars in union dues/funds.

Excellent statement and I couldn't agree more.

Truth2u

I accidentally took my statement out when I edited it. I have vision problems and the little box to type makes it difficult to review and see what I typed.

Anyway, I stated that the Union has harmed our judicial system, protecting such scum as this. It also gives the employee the idea that they are a band of brothers instead of a SERVANT of the people. Its MORE than a job. No government job should be protected by a Union, they work for us the people and the LAW. The Union will get this guy PAID leave. Try that in any other work force, Get paid for violating your oath, molesting kids and fleeing an investigative officer. All which I consider a crime which is excused by the Unions.
BTW, Past member of 480 so I don't want to hear your BS about how I never was a member of the 'brotherhood'. Was also a member in the Food Service union in NYC. So shove your typical socialist propaganda with me.

Peninsula Pundit

No harm has been done to ANYTHING by the benevolent dollars flowing from corporations and lobbyists into our judicial and legislative processes?
I'll agree with the union statement if you'll addend your comments to include mine.
Otherwise, I will shove you, along with that tired old 'socialist' saw you play,exactly where they deserve to be.

DGMutley

Truth2u,

You can enlarge the comment box by dragging one of the sides with your mouse. :-)

Truth or Dare

How did he remain a state employee? Two words, Stierwalt and Henry. This article states the charges were brought by employees within the prosecutor's office, yet Stierwalt is the prosecutor assigned to the case. I see another plea bargain in the works, just like they did when he beat the 5 yr. old bloody. After all, in order to be able to remain on the job he needed to be able to keep his weapon for work, lawfully, right?!

If Stierwalt was assigned to this, and doesn't to it voluntarily, he should be forced to recuse himself from this case. The absolute bias which just continues here has a stench that is repulsive!

Babo

I agree with you. Stierwalt has clear conflicts of interest in that he knows Vitte and obtained a contract for his attorney Henry as special prosecutor. Look for yet another "special prosecutor" to be named as Stierwalt will claim due to his conflicts his entire office is disqualified. The Special prosecutor will then cut a deal for the misdemeanor that will enable him to keep his job. Also Henry ethically should not defend him as he continues to represent as far as we know Sandusky County as a special prosecutor.

I wonder if Vitte was arrested on a warrant and had to post a sizeable bond as anyone of us would have been given his history of fleeing police and his prior criminal child endangerment conviction. My guess is he received all sorts of special treatment.

KURTje

Vitte needs to go & with your vision & age truth2 you need to quit driving for OUR safety. Blaming a Union is dumb on your part. How about Nixon & Agnew? Those ***** did not have a Union.

Peninsula Pundit

Spot on, Kurt.
Here we have a point we can all agree on, ridding the area of bad actor, and someone has to start the divisive BS about something unrelated to the topic.
I will light a candle at this time and note that Dollar General sells reading glasses for $8 a pair, Truth.

Blue.Streaker

This is a case where the allegation is so offensive that it's easy to join the howling mob and cry out for this guy's scalp. Happens all the time. That's why the law does not permit citizens to swear out criminal complaints without involving official law enforcement.

Let's jump ahead a few months now to a jury trial. It's probably going to be held somewhere like Dayton or Zanesville because of all the pretrial publicity around here. Gotta get a jury that hasn't heard all the talk.

Now, what is the actual evidence? A teenage boy describes unseemly events he says happened five years ago. OK. What else? Well, .... uh,.....the events are really unseemly, and the guy is a patrolman. OK, but what other evidence is there? Well, the boy describes the movie in great detail. Could the boy have seen the same thing on his laptop?

The boy is now cross examined by a skilled experienced defense lawyer. He is asked deeply personal questions which would be irrelevant in almost any case except this. He is expected to be consistent in every detail and consistent between every single time he has described what happened. He will be asked whether and how Vitte disciplined him and whether he resented it. He will be asked whether he has ever lied about anything, and to give examples of what he has lied about in the past. The lawyer will find inconsistencies and will emphasize them.

Vitte will likely not testify. If he does, though, he would probably say he loves the kid and has no idea why the kid is saying these terrible fabrications.

In the end the jury will have a difficult time. They will not know about Vitte's prior record. Many of them will believe the kid, but people have become conditioned by TV shows to want corroborating evidence. Where is the DNA? Where is the polygraph? Where is any kind of evidence to corroborate what the kid is saying.

There will be 12 jurors. If any single ONE of them buys into the defense or is not satisfied convicting a LE officer of a felony, ending his career, for 5 year old non-violent uncorroborated allegations there will be no conviction.

Now, let the name calling and insults begin. No, I am not defending a child molester. But I happen to know a little bit about the system and I am afraid that all the jubilation and self-congratulation I see on here may well be temporary.

And if Vitte is not convicted because a jury was not satisfied with the evidence, who are you going to blame?

Right.

DickTracey

Blue.Streaker, you are very disturbing. The very first time you joined the comment section and created a screen name, was to comment on the Vitte stories.

It is obvious that you are on TEAM VITTE. Your comments are laced with "Hope-ium" that Ricky gets off.

Have you forgotten that Vitte admitted to the boys mother that he did this? He offered an excuse for his sick behavior and lied and said that he put a dresser between the two of them. (like that would make it ok)

Many, many, cases have been won, based only on "he said, she said". With back up of corroborating wittiness testimony, in this case, the boys mother. (or possibly a sibling, social worker, counselor, teacher, aunt, etc. that the boy may have confided in)

Let me point out that all of the hundreds of cases of molestation of little boys in the Catholic church, took place many years later, with no DNA, and just testimony of the now grown men, and they are all winning.

Blue.Streaker

Sorry to disturb you.

I don't know, as a fact, whether Vitte actually did these things or not. Do you?

Unless you have independent factual knowledge of this case, why does it bother you so much that I point out the other side of the issue?

If Vitte is guilty he should be convicted and sentenced. If he is not, he should not be convicted.

I seem to be the only one willing to consider both possibilities.

worddrow811

Blue streaker, you left out three other possible scenarios. He'll quietly retire, he might possibly pull a suicide by cop or karma will take care of it..

Babo

Blue Streaker:
This is a case where the allegation is so offensive that its easy to join the howling mob and cry out for this guy's scalp. Happens all the time. That's why the law does not permit citizens to swear out criminal complaints without involving official law enforcement.

Response: Pursuant to ORC 2935.09 and Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure governing Criminal Complaints, any citizen may swear out a criminal charge with the Municipal Court Clerk of Court. The Clerk then refers the complaint to the judge or a prosecuting attorney for review on whether the Criminal Charge will be filed, not law enforcement.

Blue Streaker:
Let's jump ahead a few months now to a jury trial. It's probably going to be held somewhere like Dayton or Zanesville because of all the pretrial publicity around here. Gotta get a jury that hasn't heard all the talk.

Response: It is next to impossible to move criminal cases for prejudicial publicity anymore. If the Sowell and Castro cases in Cleveland were not moved a small timer case like State v Vitte will not be moved.

Blue Streaker:
Now, what is the actual evidence? A teenage boy describes unseemly events he says happened five years ago. OK. What else? Well, .... uh,.....the events are really unseemly, and the guy is a patrolman. OK, but what other evidence is there? Well, the boy describes the movie in great detail. Could the boy have seen the same thing on his laptop?

Response: Were you in the grand jury? No? So you have no idea for the basis of the Indictment. We do know that Vitte himself admitted the acts and those statements are admissible as statements against self interest.

Also, the charge is disseminating matter harmful to juveniles and whether a minor can view the same material on a lap top is not relevant to the charge. It is the fact that an adult provided a 12 year old minor with the harmful matter and masturbated in his presence in other words a live porn act. A juvenile can view alcohol too, but if an adult furnishes it to the juvenile and forces the juvenile to drink it that's a crime.

Blue Streaker:
The boy is now cross examined by a skilled experienced defense lawyer. He is asked deeply personal questions which would be irrelevant in almost any case except this. He is expected to be consistent in every detail and consistent between every single time he has described what happened. He will be asked whether and how Vitte disciplined him and whether he resented it. He will be asked whether he has ever lied about anything, and to give examples of what he has lied about in the past. The lawyer will find inconsistencies and will emphasize them.

Response: Wow, you must be pretty desperate to try to intimidate the victim into not testifying. This young man will be a very sympathetic witness and a defense attorney would only inflame the jury by attacking the young man.

Blue Streaker:
Vitte will likely not testify. If he does, though, he would probably say he loves the kid and has no idea why the kid is saying these terrible fabrications.

Response: And Vitte would be lying as he already admitted the acts to the victim's mother and I believe a law enforcement officer. He would also open himself up to attacks on his character including prior sexual abuse of young males, and testimony concerning prior violent acts. Also his flight from the police officer will be offered as consciousness of guilt.

Blue Streaker: In the end the jury will have a difficult time. They will not know about Vitte's prior record. Many of them will believe the kid, but people have become conditioned by TV shows to want corroborating evidence. Where is the DNA? Where is the polygraph? Where is any kind of evidence to corroborate what the kid is saying.

Response: If this goes to a jury (Vitte and his lawyer would be crazy to take this to trial); the young man will be very credible and the jury will be very sympathetic to him and want to convict a pervert cop in record time.

Blue Streaker:

There will be 12 jurors. If any single ONE of them buys into the defense or is not satisfied convicting a LE officer of a felony, ending his career, for 5 year old non-violent uncorroborated allegations there will be no conviction.

Response: It will be very important if this goes to trial that the jury be pristine (no jury tampering) and that there is no witness or jury intimidation as often happens with law enforcement cases. However you seem to be suggesting that intimidation and tampering are foregone conclusions in this case.

Blue Streaker:
Now, let the name calling and insults begin. No, I am not defending a child molester. But I happen to know a little bit about the system and I am afraid that all the jubilation and self-congratulation I see on here may well be temporary.

Response: You certainly appear to be defending an indicted pervert law enforcement officer. You are right about one thing: You know a LITTLE BIT about the system yet seem intent on using that little knowledge to undermine the administration of justice in this case.

Blue Streaker:
And if Vitte is not convicted because a jury was not satisfied with the evidence, who are you going to blame? Right.

Response: If a jury finds him Not Guilty on all charges after a fair trial, I'll respect the jury verdict. However, this case will IMO be resolved through a plea bargain to save face for the State and Vitte.

Blue.Streaker

Well, Babo, it looks like you have all the answers. No need for a trial, let's just throw Vitte in the clink.

I stand by each of my statements. Your responses read like a wannaba prosecutor who should stick to real estate.

Babo

And yours like a narcissistic defense attorney who lurks in bars and bordellos comparing notes with sadists, misogynists, and child molesters on how to avoid prosecution and conviction.

All for letting Vitte have his day in court but believe he'd be a fool to take it to trial

justice_forall2014

There had to be enough evidence in order for the jury to determine that Vitte should be charged. As I stated previously, obtain your own copy of the public records so you can be more informed rather than just opinionated. I also stated previously, this is just the tip of the iceberg, Vitte's secrets can't be kept forever.

ContraryAnn

There will be "character blood" shed by you for giving quite an accurate view of the judicial system and how it works. The only exception may be in how the News-Messenger carries the story for, despite its worthiness, the SR doesn't have a Gannett Network that sends stories like this all over the nation.
Mr. Jackson just got a quick lesson in "freedom of speech and press" when the Prosecutor demonstrated his office is not required to talk about its intentions to take evidence to a grand jury (BTW this GJ term ends April 30)

Peninsula Pundit

So,blue,do you disagree that cops should be held to a higher standard than the regular citizen who doesn't get a fancy uniform, a fast cruiser and carry a sidearm?
Those items alone signify that the public has placed in that individual a trust and confidence above and beyond what they might expect from a regular citizen.
It is only reasonable to assume that the public would expect the officer to adhere and live up to those standards.
When they do not, whether they are jailed or not, they are done as an enforcement officer.
Let the jury decide what it will.
But I'll ride more comfortably knowing that he is no longer in a cruiser or on the taxpayer's payroll.

Blue.Streaker

In theory all citizens should be held to the same standard. In reality, we, as a society, expect more from law enforcement because of the things you point out.

However (hypothetically, of course), what if a jury decides that it does not believe the allegation, and instead thinks it was fabricated by a teen as payback for having to do unwanted chores, etc. Within the realm of possible, right?

In that case where does it leave us?

(Not advocating, just sayin'.)

Peninsula Pundit

I address your point here at the end of my last post.
And do so only because admissions have been made by the suspect of what went on.
As a American citizen, 'reasonable doubt' must still be in play and he may well beat the charge.
However, as an officer, he's done, regardless of the verdict.

Pages