Vitte fired

Termination is a reversal of Ohio Highway Patrol's earlier decision to reinstate him when Stierwalt refused to seek charges
Register
Apr 25, 2014

An Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper who allegedly showed porn and masturbated with a 12-year-old boy was fired Thursday. 

The termination of Patrol Sgt. Ricky Vitte Jr. is a reversal of the Patrol's stand after the allegations initially surfaced late last year. 

Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt also did an about face earlier this month when he decided to present evidence to a grand jury and indicted Vitte on a charge of disseminating harmful material to a juvenile.

Prior to that, in January, Stierwalt dropped the investigation and said he did not intend to seek charges against Vitte. Stierwalt said at that time his main reason for not seeking charges was because Vitte could argue he was teaching the boy to masturbate.

That decision caused a firestorm of criticism from across the country after the Register first reported it Jan. 22, including suggestions Vitte was receiving specail consideration from Stierwalt because of his position as a law enforcemnt officer.

Sandusky County sheriff's Capt. Sean O'Connell, who investigated the allegations but never interviewed Vitte, wrote in a report that Vitte's sexual encounters with the boy happened out of concern for the child.

"Rick's reasoning is the fact that he did not want (the boy) to feel pressured on feeling the need to have to have sex with someone, when he can fix those needs by masturbating to porn," O'Connell wrote after an interview with the boy's mother.

The Patrol returned Vitte, who was assigned to the Toledo Post, to full service duty after Stierwalt made his decision in January. A Patrol spokeswoman at that time initially stated the Patrol would conduct an internal investigation of the circumstances surrounding the allegations, but she later stated there was nothing the Patrol could do because Stierwalt had declined to press charges. 

The Register attempted to get clarification from the Patrol, and later sought information from John Born, the director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, about the Patrol's personnel practices. Born is an appointee of Gov. John Kasich, and his agency oversees the Patrol. 

Born refused requests for an interview and did not respond to inquiries from the Register. His spokesman, Joseph Andrews, did respond, however, and reiterated that the Patrol was unable to take any disciplinary action against Vitte because of Stierwalt's earlier decision against filing charges.

Dean Henry, a Tiffin attorney who works as a special prosecutor for Stierwalt's office, also represents Vitte as his defense attorney. He told the Register in December that Vitte denied all of the allegations against him and was completely innocent. 

Henry also represented Vitte in 2003 when he was accused of beating a chid and the child's mother. Vitte was charged with domestice violence in that incident but later entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge of child endagerment. He was reinstated to full service by the Patrol immediately after the plea arrangement at that time. 

Get Saturday's Register for more on this developing story. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy the Register daily at a newsstand near you. 

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Note: This article has been modified to reflect the Register confirmed Vitte's termination and remove the alternative source provided previously. 

Comments

Ctwhalers

Way to go register for your pursuit in this story cause justice has been served.

mrlizzzard

HATS OFF!!The Register deserves much credit for decreeping the OSHP.

DGMutley

Good one!

Truth2u

no charges would have EVER been made if it wasn't for the FREE press protecting society from this and ALL governments, local, state and federal.

How about an in depth questioning of Stierwalt who REFUSED to seek charges? And how about the time where Vitte fled away, didn't a couple in Cleveland get shot over 135 times for doing the same thing? The Sheriff, Commander of the Post, Stierwalt and others should ALL BE INVESTIGATED AND CHARGED, and the ONLY way this will happen is if the Free Press persists in their investigation.

Don't expect the Messenger to do anything investigative, they catered to those in power and several who post here condemned the Register for doing its job, why don't you who spoke up against the Register do whats right and apologize!

ContraryAnn

Apologize for what? The SR got THIS story FROM THE N-M after an anonymous message on the SR tip line. Not defending Sandusky County officials by any stretch. But after all its hype and bluster, the N-M got the story first....that's called reporting and following sources.

Lil DAB
Ctwhalers

One for the good side. Now there are still some more in Sandusky county to go but a step in the right direction. There is hope burdines cordels limberios plus others.

amy0326

Sad to read such a story, can't imagine what the child must be going through. It is nice as stated above, to see justice served!

Ithink

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Tsu Dho Nimh

It's about time!

IT'S ME

He should have been fired 10 years ago when he pled guilty in a domestic violence case!

Seen it All

Exactly... but as the old saying goes, "better late than never". Let's hope his union can't get him his job back now!!!

Truth2u

I HOPE the Register continues to represent the public by nailing the Patrols Commander and others as to WHY he wasn't arrested by THEM and terminated !!

Does ANYONE honestly think that if they heard of someone in general poplulation doing such a thing that they wouldn't kick our doors down, beat us and send us up for as long as possible?

The State Patrol is the most arrogant LE there is. I still remember when they had special licence plate that began with SP so other patrolmen wouldn't pick them or their families up. The PRESS once again broke the news and they stopped doing it. Then the KKK thing which isn't a felony, they canned him as fast as they could because it was political, but ignore corruption of a minor,AND it may come out that there was more than just 'teaching' the youth how to relieve himself of pressure..... AND to think VITTE HAD A LICENCE TO KILL !!???

Stop It

Good news, SR. Way to hang in there.

whattheBucks

Though he Should have been fired a long time ago its nice to see that justice has been served, its a shame he can't be charged and labeled some type of sex offender . kudos to the register ! Team ray.... Jake and Ella people.,your next !

vcreed123

Great job staying on top of this register! Nobody else even covered this in passing, had you not maintained the heat on this story this guy would still be out there..well done.

I must say out of all the local news outlets the Register is the only paper FINDING news rather than just reporting the news.

ContraryAnn

NEWS FINDER! aka Fremont News-Messenger (6 p.m. Thursday) and anonymous tip (midnight) so your staff can quote the N-M at 4 a.m. Did anyone confirm the story with the Patrol?

Yep. FINDING NEWS...

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Contrary Ann, but you don't seem to have a full understanding and don't seem to comprehend the story as it is written. Your inability to comprehend this might be a result of your animosity toward the Register, or some other association or factor, but the other commenters are correct in their statements that the Register has been the news leader and best source of information on this developing story. We appreciate that acknowledgement from them. 

It's worth noting, however, that if the Register had not received a news tip from a member of the public there is a possibility, and maybe even a liklihood, that none of this information ever would have seen the light of day. It's possible, given the decisions made by Stierwalt, the Highway Patrol and others, previously, that this entire complaint could have been tidyed up without any public disclosure ever occurring. 

Keep those news tips coming. It's an important service.

worddrow811

Here's a big PAT ON THE BACK for your efforts, to all the team-Register staff. THANK YOU and keep the pressure on!

Commenter

Even though I don't always agree with you Matt, I have to say, good job on applying the public pressure to make them finally do the right thing.

vcreed123

Agreed, Matt you're one hell of a reporter!!

Truth2u

Remember in the Movie "We were soldiers' and the Sargent told the Major "Custard was a WUSS, YOU AIN'T!" That pretty much sums up the difference between the Messenger and the Register when it comes to this story and others about government and its 'workers'.

Is anyone really surprised that Contrary Ann said such a thing? Her prejudices are off the chart on everything. I doesn't matter what is posted, she will always do her best to create a distortion, in this case it was too obvious and she was exposed.

reggiewhite92

Your statement is incoherent. If you're trying to say the News-Messenger broke this story that's false they have been sleeping on this and other county corruption for years. But again you were pretty incoherent so I'm not sure what you were trying to say

ContraryAnn

The Register broke the story of the arrest. Where were the SR sources?

vcreed123

You're an Idiot, the NM is a rag that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

ContraryAnn

Which probably is why the virtually empty building is for sale and the paper is rumored to be closing.

The SR certainly brought the pressure in Sandusky County.

Now... where is the reporting on the problems in Erie County?

ContraryAnn

...and still we victimize the victim.

worddrow811

contrary, what does that mean? explain please? Until one gets over the 'I am a victim mindset' they cannot reclaim their personal power. By this I mean that just because negative things happen to me, does not mean that I have to carry around a label that says 'I am a victim, feel sorry for me' does it? Forgiveness is the only way to true freedom, which is not to say that the behavior is excused.

It's like the snowball effect with rocks instead of snow. Put a bag of snowballs on my back to carry around and they will eventually melt and go away. Put a bag of rocks on my back and they will just get heavier and heavier each time a rock is added until I won't be able to move. Throw away the rocks and move on with one's life.

Truth2u

I hope they NEVER BAN contrary, as it is now I can just look to see her name and pass over reading her drivel, saving lots of time. If they ban her than we have to learn a new name she would use.

ContraryAnn

Yes. And it helps your cause that Matt strongly dislikes me as much as you do - even gave me my name.

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