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.

ContraryAnn

..and how does one get over the 'mindset' when the media and the posters keep referring to 'the victim'. Unless Vitte takes a plea, the young man still will have to testify. The SR made lots of money off this story and the alleged acts (remember, they only are charged, not yet proven).
There is a reason names of persons who are victims (for lack of a better word) are not released... to protect them from undue scrutiny and biased reporting with a focus on getting the alleged criminal.
Each story reiterated the alleged crimes and actions against/with the boy. Was it necessary to keep re-drawing the picture - or in your metaphor - to keep adding rocks, or even snowballs?
In your post, you explained my post. Thanks.

worddrow811

you are welcome. glad to have been some help.

ContraryAnn

..and how does one get over the 'mindset' when the media and the posters keep referring to 'the victim'. Unless Vitte takes a plea, the young man still will have to testify. The SR made lots of money off this story and the alleged acts (remember, they only are charged, not yet proven).
There is a reason names of persons who are victims (for lack of a better word) are not released... to protect them from undue scrutiny and biased reporting with a focus on getting the alleged criminal.
Each story reiterated the alleged crimes and actions against/with the boy. Was it necessary to keep re-drawing the picture - or in your metaphor - to keep adding rocks, or even snowballs?
In your post, you explained my post. Thanks.

deertracker

Hats off to the SR for pursuing this story.

Commenter

Wow. Can't believe they did the right thing. This guy has a history of abuse and it's high time these types of men are held accountable!

Babo

Yes, it is high time predators like Vitte were held accountable. It's just really sad that without the efforts of the SR, Matt Westerhold, Courtney Astolfi, and the people who generated the petition to Governor Kasich; Stierwalt would not have indicted him and the Patrol would not terminate him.

The lessons for the press and people are: 1)Ask questions and never give up in holding government accountable; 2) Be vigilant to abuses of power by those in authority; and, 3) Protect people and or victims who are willing to speak out or report abuse or misconduct.

Kudos to the SR and the people who wrote the Governor or signed the Petition; prayers and support for Vitte's victims.

ContraryAnn

Thanks, you've inspired me.

Have you read Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus before the US Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the Ohio Elections Commission and Free Speech? The High Court took oral arguments Wednesday and is expected to rule by June on the issue of Prior Censorship and the power of the OEC.

Babo

I read the brief and case decision in the Sixth Circuit and Briefs before the SCOTUS because the case is directly relevant to other more egregious cases of prior restraints and censorship through use of criminal statutes by prosecutors, judges and politicians to silence critics of law enforcement and the justice system in Ohio. I await the decision as the decision along with US. v. Alvarez can then be used to invalidate these criminal statutes in Ohio.

In fact opinions in cases challenging these criminal statutes have been suppressed by the US Sixth Circuit and not reported. So not only is there censorship by abuse of the criminal code to silence critics of Law enforcement and the judiciary, the judiciary itself is silencing reports of the censorship by refusal to publish decisions in direct violation of Congress.

There's an obscure blog out of Medina County that claims prosecutors have boasted that they have the ability to control case outcomes all the way to the US Sixth Circuit. US Sixth Circuit Chief Judge Alice Batchelder resides in Medina.

ContraryAnn

The justices may only decide SBAL has a right to pursue the case and judge its constitutionality.

Sitting in the OEC offices last week with the full Commission present the day after the Court heard arguments, it was apparent there is concern the OEC will lose much of its power to prevent any candidate from saying anything in the pursuit of election or defeating another. The commissioners were concerned by Ohio Solicitor General Murphy's comments defending the law while Attorney General Mike DeWine opposes the law.
Justice Breyer said "Why can't a person say, you know, there are things I want to say politically, the Constitution says the state does not have the right to abridge my speech, and I intend to say them.

"And if I say them," the Justice continued, "there is a serios risk that I will be had up before a commission and I could be fined.

"What's the harm?" he concluded.

"I can't speak; that's the harm."

And then a panel of the Commission dismissed a complaint and sent the case to the full Commission to judge if the complainant's action was 'frivolous' and asked for a fine that could be up to $5,000."

Free Speech, it seems, isn't.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

It's only a tip of the iceberg at what happens with the State Highway Patrol sheriff departments and city police.

SamAdams

If you or I had done things like Vitte is accused of, we'd have been tried and jailed. And yet when a law enforcement officer does those things, the very men and women who'd arrest US don't do anything! While I'm delighted they've finally taken some steps in the right direction, it's shameful that they didn't do it sooner.

Babo is right when she says we have to "never give up in holding the government accountable." I just find it reprehensible that we HAVE to complain (repeatedly), protest (repeatedly), demand (repeatedly), and never, never, EVER take our eyes off officials just to ensure they do the right thing!

observer1

You are so right. Can you imagine coming home to find a police or sheriff's cruiser waiting for you and then taking off leading to a chase? They would drag you out of your car and beat you senseless. Why this guy got a free pass for so long mystifies me.

Great job Register!

worddrow811

I think it's called the blue code of silence.

Truth2u

OR SHOT over 135 times like the black couple in Cleveland were for fleeing! Maybe that would have been good in this particular situation, darn pervert! I personally hope Vitte does a Castro solution.

Babo

Here's another case that needs to be scrutinized as it involves the alleged abuse of office by State Rep Redfern and Visiting Judge Dale Crawford is assigned the case in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court.

http://www.thenews-messenger.com...

The above case involves an alleged burglary at Redfern's former Catawba Island home. Alexander Reitzel is the defendant and his attorney is questioning the integrity of the videotape Redfern provided to law enforcement as well as the trumped up nature of the charges.

Redfern forced Ottawa County Judge Bruce Winters off the case by raising the fact that Redfern as State Democratic Chair did not endorse Winters the incumbent Democratic Judge but endorsed a friend of his Lorraine Croy.

Croy was fired by Judge Winters and later hired by Stierwalt. She is the assistant Sandusky County prosecutor who allegedly initially reviewed the Vitte case for Stierwalt and claimed there was nothing to present to the grand jury.

Judge Winters is now running as an independent for judge probably because with the State Democratic chairman backing his opponent he had little chance in the Democratic primary.

So what would cause Redfern to dislike Judge Winters so much that he would endorse a friend of his who appears weak on child sexual misconduct cases over an incumbent Democratic judge in an effort to force him off the bench?

Could it be the criminal record of Chris Redfern's nephew Zachary Redfern, the son of his brother Peter Redfern in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court and the ongoing criminal problems with Chris Redfern's ex sister in law Anne Goode Peter Redfern's ex wife and mother of the nephew? http://198.101.52.132/cgi-bin/cd...

The Toledo Blade reported that Anne Goode was sentenced to 90 days in jail for conveying drugs into the Toledo Correctional Institution to her son. She is also bound over for indictment in Ottawa County for having a weapon under disability as she is a convicted felon. She got in a fight with someone and allegedly pulled a rifle

Her son Zachary Redfern was in TCI on a 6 years prison sentence for Burglary and other crimes (see link above) and has a long prior record of drug problems and robberies here and in Texas. He has since been moved from TCI to an even tougher prison since the drug smuggling. Judge Winters gave him lots of chances but finally had enough and sentenced him to prison for six years for burglary in 2012.

Bringing it full circle, his father Peter Redfern was alleged to have molested a teen male family friend back in the early 2000's and to be involve in drug activity but nothing ever came of it allegedly due to Chris Redfern's political influence. Lorraine Croy's husband Kelly Croy was an assistant principal at the school of the alleged victim and complaints were made to the school and to County prosecutor Mark Mulligan who employed Lorrain Croy as an assistant prosecutor at the time.

worddrow811

could anne goode be contrary ann??? just asking.

Babo

Doubtful as she is in jail and does not have access to the internet.

Julie R.

"Oh what a terrible web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

DickTracey

Something sure as he11 stinks in Ottawa County, and it ain't dead fish!!

It's the stench from the good 'ole democrat boys!

This Redfern case infuriates me! The democrat Redfern, calls a Democrat sheriff, and gets the puppet democrat Mulligan to indict in days!

Apparently the 82 year old lady, that got ripped off for over $200,000 is a Republican!! Mulligan has not answered her calls, or ever even interviewed her.

This poor neighbor kid of Refern is going to have a felony on his record, before he graduates! There was absolutely NO DAMAGE done to Redferns property!

The story is in the print edition of the Register, and Mulligan and Redfern have already changed their stories!

DeBacco tried to subpoena the Good Ole Boys phone records but got shot down, by Crawford.

Do not back down DeBacco!! Give 'em he!!

ContraryAnn

While you're at it, how about the issue of Judge Brad Smith in Sandusky County Probate/Juvenile who is allegedly defying an order of the Ohio Supreme Court.
You can read about it in the N-M. It involves custody, an Arizona Court, a hotly contested Judge Race in the Sandusky Primary.
And, you might check into all the probate and juvenile records sitting in a hallway in the Court House completely open to the public.
Or probably not....

ContraryAnn

Is this the Redfern brother who is running for state representative elsewhere as a Republican?

Babo

His brother's name is Peter Redfern. Peter Redfern is the father of Zachary Redfern.

holysee

I'm certain that Mr. Vitte has a job opening available to him at a nearby jail or sheriff's department.

shoreline dude

INMATE!!!

xtensionofme

I'll add my "it's about time" to those already here - that man has NO business wearing a badge, much less a gun!

JMOP

I'll hand it to ya Register. You kept the pressure on, and ya got results.

Hey, it's Friday, why not take the office out for a celebratory drink and dine for a job well done.

Hopperthe2nd

Thank you very much SR. I live in Fremont and beg you to keep up the investigations in our county. I'm not saying the local paper is remiss but it seems Gannett has them ham-stringed as far as local reporting goes. I know the local NM staff and they are hard working and dedicated, but can only do so much.
As an aside how much you want to to bet that the local voting populace will return the same miscreants to office when the time comes?

sandtown born a...

Let's hope with the pressure SR has put on the corrupt law enforcement , coroners, clerk of courts,and judges ( using the term loosely) in Sandusky county, things change for the better with voting and legal charges against said corrupt officials. Of course there not all bad but the rotten ones makes them all look that way.
JUSTICE FOR SANDUSKY COUNTY is a page someone should start, since it seems far beyond the big stories brought to light.
Keep the pressure on Matt and SR!!!!!!

he said she said

'Vitte could argue he was teaching the boy to masturbate'.

"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".

According to Freud, it is during the phallic stage of psychosexual development around the age of four that a child's sexual energy is focused on their genitals. It is in this time, the phallic stage, that children learn to masturbate (Friedman, 2013).

Friedman, H. S. (2013). Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research Fifth Edition. In H. S. Friedman, Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research Fifth Edition. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions.

thinkagain

I’m sure the Liberal Democrats will offer him a job as their poster child. After all, sexual deviancy is the liberal way.

Little Giant

I heard the conservatives of the religious right at St. Joe's are considering making him a priest.

Hopperthe2nd

Or a saint!

mikeylikesit

i been calling you fred phelps, but now i think you may be the long absent "taxpaer"..

queenjhb

SR shining a light on truth, good to know that this wasn't allowed to be swept under a rug, let the boy know we care what he went through & we wish him all the best. Way to go SR...

witch hunter

Where justice and authority let victims down, solidarity,activism,the Sandusky Register,and a massive effort will have to fill the breach.Show them you stand with them by liking & sharing Sandusky Register's & JFJ&E page's,that's how you show them thank you and yes we care!

witch hunter

And yes I,can't wait to read saturdays paper about "evil" and "witch hunt's"

KURTje

Thanks Register for paying attention on this. Glad Vitte is gone; he gave good L.E. a bad name. Thanks Matt W. for acknowledging what I repeatedly stated here... MANY here have facts on a myriad of subjects. Keep these blogs as they are and we citizens can share valid/pertinent information.

DGMutley

Hat's off to the Sandusky Register for keeping the pressure on!!

WeThePeople1965

About d*mn time. If he ever gets indicted, he'll walk, but at least I don't have to be worried about getting pulled over by a disgusting hypocrite. I don't want to get charged for laughing in his face and driving off.

witch hunter

I heard in S.C. you can keep driving for a couple of miles before you can call it fleeing,at least according to detective O'connell,but you should ask Bruce Hurt's son-in-law Detective Zach Zender what he thinks? they may need to know you are carrying a gun and think you are guilty of something before they let you do it.Other than that I think it is a new standard.

witch hunter

If he ever gets indicted, he'll walk? It will be hard to walk away from what his buddy Stierwalt said people think we are motherf#&#er,FOB,son-of-a-bitc# mother*&#er's I'll call Dean Henry.He will mix up the grape Kool-aid So wukie can get this one right.No not true just my take on it.

Stop It

witch hunter, you really need to calm down.

witch hunter

Yes.I know sorry.

Peninsula Pundit

Congratulations, Sandusky Register and Mr. Westerhold!
He'd still still be in a cruiser if you didn't keep after it.
Maybe the posters here who are still deriding you will now shut their big yaps (I know, fat chance).
Keep after 'em, guys!
Professional plaudits for all the investigatory work you do now will not only help our area rid itself of corruption but will certainly result in many awards to the staff at the SR.
Truly an example of the Free American Press in Action!

Justwow

Wendy's is hiring

Babo

Working with all those fresh buns may over stimulate Vitte. Probably not a good job choice.

ContraryAnn

It would be interesting to see how many posting here ever have been molested as a child and thus speak from a position of EMPATHY rather than observant SYMPATHY.

Peninsula Pundit

What the effin' difference would that make, you shrek-like troll?
I've scraped larger intellect than you from the sole of my shoe.
And that's the last reply you'll ever see from me addressing you.
I encourage all other posters to do the same.
Hey Register! If you're still looking to change the format here, besides the thumbs up/down, could I also ask for an 'IGNORE' button so ContraryHarry's posts do not even show on my computer?
I would be most appreciative!