THE REAL HERO

THE REAL HERO Rubin

Stacie Elliget hid from all but a few girlfriends that her father, Mesa Police Department patrol cop Dick Elliget, had been sexually molesting her for years. When she finally tried to get her mother to help her, she got an icy response.

"I gave my mom a chance before I turned my dad in," she says. "I said, `Help me, Mom, you know he's touching me, he's molesting me. Do you want me to spell it for you?' She had an excuse for everything. My mom basically has no backbone. She totally turned her back on her kids. You can replace a husband, but not your kids. Both of my parents are sick."

The sad events of Stacie's life have left her angry and confused. That's not remarkable, considering what went on for several years inside her middle-class Mesa home.

She explains why she's talking to New Times: "I want kids to know they can make it. I'm gonna make it through this and so are my sisters, though things have been pretty rough."

When she was about 12, Stacie says, she found her father's "sex diary." It recounted in pornographic detail her mother's sexual encounters with numerous men, including high-ranking officers in the Mesa Police Department.

"I thought it was kind of normal for some people to let their wives sleep with all these guys, cops and everyone, and to watch," she says. "I know that's weird, but I didn't know what to think. I mean, I knew some of those cops since I was a little girl. I think he put the diary in a place where I could find it, to set me up for being molested. He started touching me right around the time I found it."

Now in jail, Dick Elliget is out of Stacie's sight, but not her mind. "I think bad things about him," Stacie says. "He is a scumbag. I will never see or speak to my father again, and I don't want either of them to see their grandchildren when I have them someday."

Still, Stacie expresses feelings of uncertainty about her mother, Laurie Elliget, who was also implicated in the sex case. "My dad had her brainwashed," Stacie says. "I'd see my mom crying so many times about stuff, but she wasn't there for me and my sisters."

These days, Stacie's counting on her three younger sisters, her school friends and her boyfriend to keep her afloat.

"They told me my boyfriend would stick around for a week after all this came out," Stacie says, "but he's been through the whole nine yards with me and he's still around."

Soon after Stacie met her boyfriend earlier this year, her father pinned her against a wall in a choke hold.

"He told me, `You can't see him anymore, he's not for you,'" Stacie says. "`You don't understand how much I love you. I'm doing this for you.' He kept choking me. I was so scared. It left these purple marks all over my neck."

When her boyfriend saw the ugly bruises, Stacie remembers, "He goes, `I know something is wrong with your dad, I'm gonna turn him in if you don't.' I couldn't tell him what my dad really had been doing to me. I thought he'd dump me or something. I thought about running away. I didn't know what to do."

Recently, she's been attending a weekly recovery group for victims of incest. "Our therapy group is real important to me. The lady who runs it is great--she's real and the people are real. We all get a lot out of it."

Stacie says she recognizes that all cops aren't bad. "There's been a lot of cops supportive of what I did by turning in my dad. I just don't understand why they don't get to the bottom of everything at the department. It stinks."

Stacie also has harsh things to say about press coverage of the celebrated case. She says she called the Mesa Tribune after stories about Dick Elliget's plea bargain last month depicted her as a teenager who had "consented" to sexual acts.

"I told them that the stories had dragged me through the mud," she says. "Whoever I spoke to said, `We're very sorry. We can't print your story.' I felt like saying, `Who's the good guy and who's the bad guy in this?' I wasn't asking for this. And I'm not some girl off the street. I want people to know that this was my dad who was doing this to me, my father. I didn't want him to be like this. I didn't do anything wrong by telling the truth."

Stacie and her sisters have lived in foster homes and crisis shelters since late July. The Elliget girls are wards of the state, and will have little say in how they run their lives until they turn 18. For Stacie Elliget, that's one year and one week away.

"She had an excuse for everything. My mom basically has no backbone." "He kept choking me. I was so scared. It left these purple marks all over my neck.

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