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An attorney for Scott Ritter confirmed that the outspoken former U.N. weapons inspector, who says President Bush should be impeached for his Iraq policy, was arrested a year and a half ago.
Scott Ritter mug shot (courtesy WNYT-TV)
Norah Murphy said Ritter was arrested in the upstate New York town of Colonie in June 2001, but she would not respond to allegations that he was charged with soliciting an underage girl on the Internet. Ritter lives in the Albany, N.Y., suburb of Delmar.
The Schenectady Daily Gazette and New York Daily News report Ritter allegedly had an online sexual discussion with someone he thought was an underage girl. The “girl,” however, turned out to be an undercover police investigator, according to the Daily News, whose sources spoke on condition of anonymity.
WTEN-TV, the ABC affiliate in Albany, is reporting that Ritter contacted the “teen-age girl” twice within a three-month period in 2001, and that he underwent court-ordered sex-offender counseling from a psychologist in New York’s capital.
Sources tell the Albany Times-Union that Ritter actually had two run-ins with police. The first occurred in April 2001, as the former Marine reportedly drove to a Colonie business to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He was reportedly questioned by officers, and released without a charge.
Two months later, the source told the paper, Ritter was caught in the same kind of online sex sting after he tried to lure a 16-year-old girl to an area Burger King restaurant.
Colonie police Deputy Chief Steven Heider told WorldNetDaily that he cannot confirm the allegations, explaining that if they were true, the details would have been sealed by a court order.
“A sealing order is exactly what it says it is,” he said. “We’re not allowed to talk about anything under sealed court order, and I’m not saying that one exists.”
However, WND has learned that NBC television affiliate WNYT in Albany has video of a mug shot of Ritter after the arrest.
“If it’s not him, it’s either his clone or a twin,” the station’s news director, Paul Conti, told WND.
WorldNetDaily reported earlier that WNYT said it had footage of the arrest, but Conti clarified that the station has video of the scene, shot after the arrest.
The news director said the 16-year-old girl had been lured by Ritter to meet him at the Burger King in Menands, N.Y., in order “to have her watch him have sex with himself.”
“Anyone who went to the Burger King that day could confirm the details of that event and report that a sting operation was under way that involved a decoy officer posing as a 16-year-old girl,” Conti said.
Callers to today’s Rush Limbaugh radio program brought up the issue of Ritter’s arrest, to which the conservative talk host responded:
“If I were Scott Ritter, I would just come up with a ‘Hey, I was just doing research here.’ … The Pete Townshend reply.”
“You know we’ve all wondered,” added Limbaugh, “why it is that Scott Ritter has done a 180 on what he originally saw as a weapons inspector and then the last couple years, it’s like ‘Nah, the Iraqis don’t even have the capability to make a thumbtack, much less a chemical weapon.'”
Still, Limbaugh downplayed the incident.
“I’m surprised that this bothers anybody,” he said. “I mean look at these reality TV shows out there, everything going on, ‘Bachelorette,’ ‘Joe Millionaire’ … we had oral sex in the Oval Office … I’m just surprised [at] the selective application of morality, that we seem to have certain things bother us and other things don’t.”
As WorldNetDaily reported Saturday, Ritter is calling for the ouster of President Bush for what he feels are unnecessary and murderous actions in the conflict with Iraq.
“I would be in favor of the impeachment of President Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors,” the 41-year old told WND. “Murder is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I can’t think of any better definition than murder when he talks about American service members and putting them in a war which is not only illegal but is based on a foundation of lies.”
“When you go to war you open up a Pandora’s box, the results of which cannot be predicted,” he said via telephone as he drove from his upstate New York home to appear on Fox News. “Therefore, there better be a darned good reason to go to war. It’s got to be worth the sacrifice that you’re asking others to make.”
Ritter’s views against the conflict with Iraq could be in jeopardy depending on the amount of national media attention his arrest receives, said Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University.
“When you’re a talking head, your whole reason for being has got to be the image of anything you represent,” Thompson told the Times-Union. “If the story starts getting to be a big issue, there will be talking heads making their careers on the end of this talking head.”