Termination due to tarnishing

Highway Patrol fired Vitte for 'unbecoming' conduct and making it look bad
Register
Apr 29, 2014

"As a result of an administrative investigation, it was found you brought discredit to the (Patrol) when indicted on a felony charge of disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile," John Born, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, wrote to Patrol Sgt. Ricky Vitte Jr. on April 21. 

The note was included in a packet of internal documents the Highway Patrol released Monday in response to a public records request.  

"In the months leading up to the indictment, media outlets in and outside Ohio have reported on the allegations related to the indictment," the note stated. 

The Patrol's internal investigation did not address the specific allegation a 17-year-old boy made last year that Vitte had twice showed the boy pornography and masturbated with him when the boy was 12. 

The Patrol refused to conduct an administrative investigation in January after Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt dropped an investigation into the allegations and declined to pursue charges. Stierwalt reasoned it would be difficult to convict Vitte because the Patrol sergeant could argue he was teaching the boy to masturbate. 

Born refused to respond to requests from the Register about the Patrol's personnel practices after a Patrol employee initially said the agency would conduct an investigation, but later backtracked. Born's spokesman said there would be no internal investigation because the local prosecutor did not charge Vitte after investigating the allegations. 

State director killed sex probe

Stierwalt never expanded or provided any clarification of the reason he provided the Register for not charging Vitte — that he could argue he was teaching the boy to masturbate — but he did expand his comments during the Patrol's internal investigation. 

Hello, Tom? Is that you? Click here to listen to the call (includes objectionable language) with Stierwalt talking to a person he thought was Vitte. 

On Feb. 5, Stierwalt told the Patrol he opted against pursuing charges because there had been "no touching in the masturbation incident" between Vitte and the boy. He also said he did not consider Vitte's efforts to contact his ex-wife to be a violation of a civil protection order, and that it was not a felony when Vitte fled a stop by Sandusky County sheriff's deputies who had arranged to interview Vitte about the allegations. 

Stierwalt told the Patrol investigators during that initial interview he had sought a second opinion from attorneys in the Lucas County prosecutor's office and was awaiting a reply from them. 

About a week later, Stierwalt told the Patrol's investigators he was awaiting a decision from the Lucas County sex crimes unit "to determine if the video that Vitte showed (the boy) could be considered 'disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile.'"

The Lucas County prosecutor's office told Stierwalt it "recommended that no charges be filed against Vitte," according to the Patrol's internal report, and the only thing left for Stierwalt to consider "was taking the case before a grand jury."

Stierwalt met with the boy nearly a month after the Patrol began its internal investigation and told the Patrol's investigator "he found his story to be credible." He told the investigator he "was leaving the decision whether to move forward with prosecution up to the boy," the Patrol's report states. 

"Stierwalt said he gave the boy a week to render a decision as to whether he wanted to proceed with prosecution," the report states. "He said if the boy wants to proceed, he will take it before the next grand jury and if not he will probably drop it."

Stierwalt presented information to a grand jury at the start of April and Vitte was indicted on two counts of disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile.

The Patrol's investigation focussed on whether Vitte had discredited the Patrol. 

The investigator, Lt. K.E. Ward, the Patrol's Administrative Investigation Unit commander, interviewed Vitte's commander at the Patrol's Toledo post, Lt. William Bowers. 

"I asked Bowers if he believed the situation with Vitte had brought discredit to the Division and he said 'yes,'" Ward's report states. "Bowers said that since the story has been in the media the Post has received several phone calls making derogatory comments about the Patrol." 

Vitte's indictment and the subsequent charges "threw the Post into turmoil," Bowers told Ward. 

Ward also said he interviewed the Findlay District commander, Gary Allen, who told him "Vitte's situation has had a negative impact."

Allen told Ward "that people in the district are more concerned with what's going on with Vitte than they were doing their jobs."

"Allen stated that this has made the Highway Patrol look bad and it's embarrassing," the report stated.

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Comments

downthemiddle

Now his union will step up.....

DGMutley

I don't know if they can save him from this.

Stop It

Keep bringing these stories to the light of day, SR. Excellent job. People such as Vitte DO make the OSHP look bad. He would've been in jail if he wasn't LE at the time.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

Fire the a$$ the tried to protect him

Babo

There is much troubling information in this story.

First, Stierwalt didn't think Vitte violated a protection order which is usually a misdemeanor crime.

Second, Stierwalt didn't thinking fleeing police was a felony under the facts given but again had no problem with Vitte committing a misdemeanor crime.

Third, Stierwalt asked Lucas County prosecutor Julia Bates' office to review the case under some unknown law. Bates is prosecutor in a county wherein its county seat Toledo is considered one of the leading hot spots in the country for child and human trafficking and her office has a miserable record in prosecuting sex crime cases and LE misconduct. She is also counsel to the Lucas County Coroner's office that makes so many questionable death rulings in cases involving LE misconduct. Not surprisingly her office didn't think the acts a crime.

Fourth, the Patrol seems to indicate that unless a LE is indicted for a felony, any other misconduct such as misdemeanors and abuse of power doesn't merit any investigation by their office. In other words instead of being held to a higher standard of conduct, the patrol is held to a lower standard than almost every other occupation.

Fifth, it is only because the victim insisted on taking this to the grand jury that Stierwalt did so and he didn't present the evidence of the other crimes (protection order violation and fleeing to the grand jury) both of which are at least misdemeanors and possibly felonies given that a felony involving a child was the underlying crime. The other crimes demonstrate complete contempt for the law on the part of Vitte. In other words, Stierwalt went to great lengths to undercharge him.

Sixth, the only reason Vitte was indicted was due the media attention from exclusively the SR. Without the SR's coverage, other media outlets would not have picked up the story and there would not have been the mobilizing of public outrage that ultimately forced the OHP to do what they should have done months ago. That's discouraging that a law enforcement agency has such low standards and only reacts to negative publicity.

Again, the SR is to be applauded for covering this story and fulfilling its mission as the Fourth Estate to help keep government accountable.

DickTracey

Agree. But what really stood out for me was that Stierwalt, further victimized the poor victim, by putting all that pressure on him.

Shame on him for being so heartless towards this young man. What a decision for a young man to have to make and carry with him for the rest of his life.

Vitte now can forever blame the boy. It will always be his fault he got fired, and his fault it went to the grand jury.

WHY would Stierwalt put all of that burden on a young victim? Isn't it the prosecutors job to protect the victim?

Babo

Excellent point. Stierwalt was probably hoping the victim would cave into the pressure and not pursue it. He also might be sending a message to LEO's hey I did what I could but my hand was forced. If so, shame on him for exploiting the victim to try to save face with his friends in LE. Stierwalt really needs to be brought up before the Disciplinary Counsel for his handling of this case.

I hope the victim feels empowered and recognizes he is the hero in this story.

Truth2u

After reading Stierwalt's comments I must ask "WHY does HE still have his job?" HE should be fired, I consider him and all the others who did NOTHING as disgusting as Vitte.

If anyone on this forum did HALF of what Vitte did Stierwalt and everyone else would come down on them like lions on T-Bone steak and they would call the Register to get glorified for their expert police work!

Another great report from the Register !! Don't stop the drilling, these disgusting representatives with different rules for their own need to answer to us.

chasf

at first the boy didn't want to testify,is why Stierwalt hard to prosecute if you dont have a wittness, once the boy changed his mine to testify they took it to grand jury

justice_forall2014

Are you sure of this information you are giving? I can almost bet this is not factual information.

justice_forall2014

Something else to consider would be, why was the case sent to Lucas County for review, the county Ricky Vitte Jr. worked in for years. Also, what was the reason Lucas County decided there should be no charges?

Babo

Right... Stierwalt doesn't have any authority to ship one of his cases off to another county for review let alone Lucas County where Vitte worked as a LEO and had to have interactions with prosecutors in Lucas County.

Don't know why Lucas County decided there should not be any charges. Do know that office has a poor history of protecting women and children from abuse by LEO's and other politically connected persons. Lucas County appears to be political and not very protective of children after the Grand Jury indicted Vitte.

ContraryAnn

...and here we go again victimizing "the poor victim".

What about children sexually abused physically... with penetration, touching, fondling? While the alleged activity here is utterly despicable, do we think this is the ONLY sexual crime children in this area?
What about the trafficking to which Babo refers? You don't have to go to Lucas County, folks. IT'S HERE!!!

ContraryAnn

So where is your outrage about the hundreds of abuse cases here?
Have you volunteered to be a child advocate?

DGMutley

That's a good post ContraryAnn!

I still can't get over your enthusiasm to hurry and post Vitte's firing here on the Register so we would all know. Thanks!

kURTje

Lets see more of "them" that fought US go! Especially John Born.

queenjhb

The victim needs to know that Vitte was let go by LE [ finally] because of himself, no matter what happens to Vitte in the future , The victim is courageous , strong , and will know that we all believed him, best of luck ,young man.

Truth2u

"was leaving the decision whether to move forward with prosecution up to the boy," SINCE WHEN is this acceptable? If a person beats there mate and the mate doesn't want to press charges guess what, it doesn't matter! I heard of women going to jail for just slapping their husbands which is a heck of a lot less offensive than wacking with a 12 year old while watching porn! Stierwalt and the others involved disgust me as much as Vitte!

justice_forall2014

This is exactly why more victims don't come forward. I wonder what else Vitte may have gotten away with.

DGMutley

His conduct was definitely off the charts. His actions seem to have been calculated which is really troublesome. I would not be surprised if there were others.