The attorney who often works as a special prosecutor bowed out Thursday as defense counsel for fired Ohio Patrol Sgt. Ricky Vitte Jr., who was accused last year of showing pornography to and masturbating with a pre-teen boy.
Dean Henry, Tiffin, worked closely with Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt as a special prosecutor and talked with him prior to Stierwalt's decision in January against seeking charges against Vitte. Stierwalt said his main reason, at that time, for not seeking charges was that Vitte could argue he was teaching the boy to masturbate.
Henry told the Register in February he and Stierwalt talked about possible defense strategies Vitte might use if charges were brought, but not the strategy Stierwalt cited as the reason he decided to drop the investigation of Vitte.
Stierwalt's decision against seeking charges sparked a firestorm of criticism from across the state and country after the Register first reported it.
He reversed course in April, deciding to take evidence to a grand jury, which indicted Vitte on two counts of disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile.
The Highway Patrol fired Vitte just days after he was indicted, after initially refusing to review the allegations and reinstating him to full-service duty after Stierwalt's decision in January.
Stierwalt has never provided any clarification or expanded on his reasoning initially for not seeking charges against Vitte. He also has not provided any information whether other possible charges related to the sexual nature of the allegations were considered when he took the case to the grand jury.
Vitte hired attorneys Lorin Zaner and Theodore B. Tucker III to serve as his defense counsel, according to court records.
Henry, Zaner and Tucker could not be reached for immediate comment on Friday.