Former U.N. Inspector Scott Ritter Facing New Underage Sex Charges

Scott Ritter, former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-98, is facing charges involving internet sex with a 15 year old. It was a sting.

The online conversation occurred in February 2009, but the investigation lasted until November, when Ritter was charged, because police had to undergo the lengthy process of obtaining court orders to get Ritter's cell phone and computer information.

Ritter is awaiting his next appearance in Monroe County Common Pleas Court. He waived his right last month to a preliminary hearing and is free on $25,000 unsecured bail.

The Affidavit in Support of his arrest is here (pdf). He had a similar charge dismissed in New York in 2001. The DA held a press conference today on the case. [More...]

"The officer assumes the identity of a minor," said Assistant District Attorney Michael Rakaczewski, who is prosecuting Ritter's case. "What happens is [the detective] basically waits for an individual, such as Mr. Ritter, to contact him. From there he engages the defendant in sexually explicit situations, and in this case it culminated in the defendant exposing himself."

So they have the video of him exposing himself and mast*rbating on a webcam. He was in a Yahoo instant messenger chat room, using the name "del4marm." He gave the undercover cop his cell phone phone number to call him during the session.

Pretty gross. And stupid. According to the affidavit, Ritter turned off the webcam when the phony victim claimed to be 15. But then he turned it on again so s/he could "watch him finish."

< MTV and George Clooney to Host Telethon for Haiti | New Indictment in Chicago Headley- Rana Terror Case >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    good gawd (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 09:57:05 PM EST
    I have no words

    Monroe County, PA, that is (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 09:59:08 PM EST
    in the Northeast corner of the state, in the Poconos Mountains, near the NY State border.  For some excellent insight into these sad (and overpunished) cases, folks might want to read Mark Bowden's excellent article from Vanity Fair last month.

    Think Mt Pocono,Stroudsburg, (none / 0) (#6)
    by BarnBabe on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 10:37:45 PM EST
    Near Delaware Water Gap which crosses over into NJ. I am in Wayne, but once lived in Monroe. I just do not understand some things. Why a high profile intelligent man can be so stupid. Aren't there enough fantasies out there in the world without the need for a 15 year old watching you perform on your PC? Laptop Dancing. Woe de me.

    Read the Vanity Fair story (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 11:01:09 PM EST
    that I previously linked, if you want to understand at least a little better.

    Interesting article... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 09:55:15 AM EST
    Thanks Peter.

    I like Chief Justice Hughes line on entrapment...

    "prostitution of the criminal law."

    This, generally (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 10:09:09 AM EST
    is not entrapment.  

    Entrapment is when he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit.


    ...there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the Government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportunity for the person to commit the crime. For example, it is not entrapment for a Government agent to pretend to be someone else and to offer, either directly or through an informer or other decoy, to engage in an unlawful transaction with the person

    If it isn't.... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 10:21:15 AM EST
    its pretty damn close.

    I can't say I'm thrilled with paying people to con these sickos off their pcs and onto the street.


    Why am I not shocked? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 10:02:52 PM EST

    Sadly, my shock register is still functioning (none / 0) (#4)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 10:07:23 PM EST
    I have no idea why.

    My disgust level does not even change much (none / 0) (#5)
    by ruffian on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 10:21:33 PM EST
    if he thought the 'witness' was 15 or 55. It is a yahoo chat room. I just can't even imagine even chatting on yahoo, much less anything else.

    It's an uncontrollable (none / 0) (#8)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 11:24:40 PM EST
    compulsion, usually strongly fueled by self-loathing and self-destructiveness.

    frankly, i'm still trying (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 12:12:55 AM EST
    to figure out what actual crime he committed. there was no "15 year-old girl", just an adult, male police officer, posing as one. he made no effort to physically meet this person (usually the basis for an arrest in these kinds of cases). what he thought is irrelevant, the actuality is he didn't expose himself to a minor.

    if having really bad taste (and make no mistake, this is gross) were a crime, the nation hasn't enough jail cells.

    I would have to look at the statute, (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:59:12 AM EST
    but it's not unheard of that people can be prosecuted for what they think they're doing. Attempting to hire a hit man is one example I can think of.

    in pretty much all (none / 0) (#14)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:27:07 AM EST
    the cases of this i've ever read about, there was an actual physical meeting, or at least an attempted one, between the parties. no such event took place, or was even broached, in the present case.

    Attempting to hire a hit man is one example I can think of.

    Impossible to say more (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:34:32 AM EST
    without seeing the statute.

    Needless to say that proving intent and belief without action is probably pretty difficult.


    You can see the statute, (none / 0) (#17)
    by Peter G on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 09:20:35 AM EST
    if you're interested (hey, aren't you a law student AG? You know how to find it!).  Anyway, if the allegations are true (which I don't assume), there is at least a fully consummated (pun intended) act of indecent exposure (with a good defense that it did not occur "in a public place or in any other place where there are present other persons under circumstances in which [the accused] knows or should know that this conduct is likely to offend, affront or alarm"), and an attempted offense of corruption of a minor.  (Note that under section 6301(d), mistake as to age is not a defense if the defendant thought age of the "victim" was under 16; hence, the u/c cop's claim to be 15, imho.)  The reasons most of these cases are not prosecuted without travel to a proposed meeting are to get solid evidence of a "substantial step" (as required) in furtherance of the alleged "attempt," to corroborate the "intent" element (and thus negate an "I knew it was a cop all along and was only jerking his chain" defense), and to provide a convenient occasion for a dramatic arrest (sometimes staged for the media) -- not because an in-person meeting is a required element of the offense.  Apparently the DA felt he had all three of those bases covered in this case in other ways.

    Thanks Peter (none / 0) (#22)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 09:58:23 AM EST
    I took a quick look at the links but didn't see a statute cited.

    BTW, your Westlaw links error out for me (none / 0) (#23)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 09:59:41 AM EST
    Do you have a full cite?

    Damn Thomson West (none / 0) (#28)
    by Peter G on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 11:01:00 AM EST
    a/k/a the "evil empire."  PA was one of the last states to put its statutes on line, only a few years ago.  They were posted to a very nice, easy to use site run by the state government's "legislative reference bureau."  Then somehow West got the contract to provide free access to the statutes (here) and now I see that you have to click through all the (largely unintelligible and nearly useless) menus and levels Every Time you go back in.  West's "free" system for this access totally stinks; I can't believe the state government actually took down their good site when this went up.  It must have been designed to frustrate people to the point that they would pay for real access; WestLaw, while expensive, is convenient and well-designed.

    Anyway, the cites are 18 Pa.Cons.Stat. sec. 901 (attempt), 3127 (indecent exposure) and 6301 (corruption), inter alia.  If you can find a better on-line resource for PA statutes, I'd be very grateful.


    tks (none / 0) (#30)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:30:54 PM EST
    I don't often look up state law, so I didn't know West grabbed a PA monopoly.

    Free link (none / 0) (#31)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:34:50 PM EST
    here. But it's far from official, and I'm not sure it's up to date.

    Last amended 2007 (none / 0) (#32)
    by Peter G on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:29:27 PM EST
    it says.  Not acceptable, unfortunately, as a source for a statutory code which is amended, one way or another (or several), every year.  Even assuming the 2007 version on this site is accurate, which I would have no way of knowing.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#33)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 04:25:54 PM EST
    And that's why people shell out for Westlaw and binder copies.

    From what I understand (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:34:59 AM EST
    and have seen on news reports at times, people are employed doing nothing but portray themselves as underage people in order to catch perps.  Because I have two kids and now two grandkids I find myself okay with it too.

    And not the first time (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:13:21 AM EST
    This is at least the third time he's been arrested for such activities.

    This is not the first time Ritter has been in such trouble.

    According to reports, Ritter was charged in a June 2001 Internet sex sting in New York, but that case was dismissed.

    He had been charged with attempted child endangerment after arranging in an online chatroom to meet what he thought was a 16-year-old girl at a Burger King restaurant. The girl turned out to be an undercover policewoman.

    Ritter said the criminal charge was a smear campaign in response to his criticizing U.S. policy in the Middle East.

    The New York Post reported Ritter had been caught in a similar case involving a 14-year-old girl in April 2001, but that he was not charged.

    From Wiki:

    Charges included "unlawful contact with a minor, criminal use of a communications facility, corruption of minors, indecent exposure, possessing instruments of crime, criminal attempt and criminal solicitation". Ritter faces up to seven years in prison.

    i'm guessing all those charges (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:22:48 AM EST
    will be dropped.

    He does seem to have a history (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:26:09 AM EST
    of "getting off"

    For some reason (none / 0) (#18)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 09:48:31 AM EST
    I believe Ritter when he says he was framed. He was a harsh critic of our Iraq policy and I put nothing past these folks we call our representatives. Or maybe I'm just wearing my tinfoil a little too tightly today.

    Overall I find that our laws and slightly hysterical reaction to CHILD ABUSE OMG!!! is similar to our reaction to TERRA TERRA TERRA!!!

    people are employed doing nothing but portray themselves as underage people in order to catch perps

    Yes, and some of the tactics they stoop to, and their own clear psychological problems, are highly problematic to say the least. Not to mention the constitutional problems they create. They're vigilantes, plain and simple. If you read some of the reports about these groups I doubt you'd be OK with it.

    This is hard to even write about because even questioning all these "BUT THE CHILDREN!!!!" laws marks you as a "pro-child-rape" or something.

    But I lived through the horrors of the daycare/sex-abuse-ring/repressed memory witch hunts that resulted in many, many innocent people being sent to prison for a long time (someone in another thread noted Martha Coakley's connection to the Amirault case, for instance)--and the people who were "convinced" by mental health workers that they were the victims of sexual abuse and broke off relations with their families--all those people, those cops and prosecutors and therapists, too, thought they were PROTECTING THE CHILDREN and let their hysteria do some very, very bad things.

    So... (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 09:54:25 AM EST
    We shouldn't do anything to try and catch these creeps before they actually sexually abuse a child?  We should wait until it really happens and then try to get them?

    People who troll for sex with children have problems and are a menace to society. And I'm not sure how you diagnosed all the people who do work in this field as having psychological issues, but okay.  Maybe they just feel they have to do something to get these perverts off the streets.

    But I guess you and I disagree.


    I too... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 11:06:23 AM EST
    worry a little bit about people who devote their lives to this very seedy disgusting side of humanity.  Like this undercover cop sitting in a basement all day living in this sick cyber world...I don't know it just seems off to me.

    I wonder if sometimes the child predator vigilante is really using their vigilance as an excuse to live out their own sick fantasies...like Hoover and his massive vault of seized pron.  Don't tell me he wasn't gettin' off on that stuff.


    Also... (none / 0) (#19)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 09:50:10 AM EST
    Physical abuse and (even more) neglect of children is vastly more prevalent than sexual abuse yet we don't see half the time or resources spent on those cases. Until a child ends up beaten or starved to death, then the finger-pointing starts.

    First off (none / 0) (#25)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 10:12:33 AM EST
    I wasn't talking about every single person who works in this field or that I've diagnosed them, that is not what I said.

    Here's a profile of the group that does most of the dirty work (so to speak) for that show, it's called Perverted Justice. The founder talks about how he hates his father, has launched sting operations against people who criticize the group, and requires complete control over his employees' private lives. He was barred from editing Wikipedia after flaming critics of the group and accusing them, and the editors of Wikipedia, of being pedophiles:


    Two years ago, ex-employees of the show filed a lawsuit complaining of the ethical problems involved:

    In May, in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by a former "Dateline" employee, Marsha Bartel outlined a series of ethical misgivings about "To Catch a Predator" that some media critics have raised themselves. Among other things, Bartel argues that paying Perverted Justice for its services gives the group "a financial incentive to lie to and trick targets of its sting." She's not the only ex-employee, incidentally, to discuss the show's underlying methods. Former "Dateline" anchor Stone Phillips has said that in many of the contrived Internet chats, "the decoy is the first to bring up the subject of sex."


    Then there's this:

    While some police departments enjoy the publicity that Perverted Justice brings, many in the criminal-justice field aren't so sanguine about the group's tactics. "We can't let anyone who wants simply become law enforcement," says Mike Iacopino, co-chair of a task force on sex offenders assembled by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "This is no different than letting a guy with a six-shooter walk around protecting your hometown." Indeed, many child-protection agencies express a disapproval of Dateline. "We've seen numerous cases that would constitute entrapment, and then Chris Hansen shoves a camera in these guys' faces and they end up convicted on the basis of the camera confession," says Brad Russ, director of training for Internet Crimes Against Children, a federally funded task force that declined to partner with Dateline. "The whole thing is a perversion of the way the criminal-justice system is supposed to operate."


    Sorry-- (none / 0) (#26)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 10:14:29 AM EST
    the first article I linked to is not the profile of the group, the last one is.

    again, (none / 0) (#34)
    by cpinva on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 04:26:52 AM EST
    i've seen nothing so far that would warrant an arrest. my opinion (for what it is or isn't worth), this was a publicity ploy by the DA's office, is he running for re-election this year?

    these charges will be dropped faster than a hot potato, once there is no more free publicity to be gained from it. of course, the city will then face a civil suit for wrongful arrest, among other things.

    since none of the parties involved will be personally liable, they don't care.

    sorry, this whole thing just activated my cynicism machinery.