THE SCANDAL AT THE MESA POLICE DEPARTMENT

DICK ELLIGET WAS A HERO COP. HE WAS ALSO A CHILD MOLESTER AND THE CENTER OF A CIRCLE OF POLICE CORRUPTION.

"The more serious the charge against an officer, the more compelling the reason for a department to bring in another agency to investigate," says McDonald, a former United States Attorney. "When you're talking about sex and children, it can't get much more serious. Law enforcement can't operate under a cloud. Even when it's a close question, you get out of the way."

Terry Jennings' refusal to call in an outside agency becomes even more critical in light of something Stacie Elliget recalls. "Kay Miller told me when he was going to interview me that now he knew what Russ Staton had meant," Stacie tells New Times. "Kay said Russ had told him that `someday, you'll be asking Dick Elliget these same questions--you'll see,'" Stacie says. "It's weird, 'cause right around that time my dad started playing these little sex games with me."

SIX WEEKS BEFORE Dick Elliget's fiefdom crashed, the Mesa Tribune published a story with the headline, "Police work all in the family for dad, sons."

The story described glowingly how Dick, Tim and Richard Elliget Sr. had been serving the City of Mesa for years. "I try to keep my career separated from my personal life as much as possible," Dick Elliget told a reporter, adding that his cop job fascinated his four daughters. "There's always that `wow,'" he said.

Dick Elliget had been a cop for most of his adult life. He served a tour in Vietnam after being graduated from Phoenix Central High School, then went to work for a few years as a deputy marshal in the northern Arizona town of Fredonia. The Mesa Police Department hired him in 1978.

Laurie Elliget gave birth to the second of their four daughters shortly after the family moved to Mesa. Over the years, he earned a reputation as a go-getter. The department awarded him its Medal of Valor in 1984--he is the only Mesa officer ever to receive that honor--after he rescued a suicidal woman from drowning in a canal. He later won a second Medal of Valor in another rescue of a suicidal woman.

Those honors have been called into question by some Mesa cops. Both awards came upon the recommendation of Elliget's alleged "godfather," Lieutenant Rick Heath, the retired supervisor whose name is said to appear in Elliget's sex diary. "It just looks fishy," says one cop who knows both men. "They were best of buds, looking out for each other. I know that we do rescues all the time and don't get nominated for big awards. A lot of us have wondered about the medals, even before we knew about the diary and all that."

Though the public knew Dick Elliget as a hero, fellow officers knew him as a Lothario. They dubbed him "Dick the Stick," a reference to his incessant chasing of women both in and out of the department.

Once in the late 1980s, according to police records obtained by New Times, the manager of a Village Inn restaurant called the Mesa Police Department to complain about Elliget and another officer's sexual harassment of a waitress. The department took no official action against either officer.

"I've known for years that Dick and Laurie both have slept around," B.J. Elliget told detectives. "One night I said, `Dick, how can you sleep around like that? You can't love your wife.' And he says, `I do love my wife. The women that I sleep with, I don't make love to them, I just sleep with them. I make love to my wife.' He went into some weird details, like he would actually bring underwear home to Laurie of other women."

For years, Laurie had been posing for nude photographs for her husband. Elliget displayed the nudes prominently in his gun room. The room--supposedly off-limits to the kids--is where Elliget often hung out with his police buddies. He made his wife available to some of them.

A transcript of B.J. Elliget's first interview with detectives details several of Laurie's sexual encounters with Mesa cops. But higher-ups in the Mesa Police Department and prosecutors in the County Attorney's Office have censored the names from public view.

"Can we police ourselves?" says Mesa police spokesman Mike Hayes. "When people read the report in its entirety, people will conclude that Mesa P.D. did it quite professionally and very well." Hayes adds, however, that he has not read the Elliget police report. "I'll do that when the case is over," he says.

IN RECENT YEARS, Dick and Laurie Elliget expanded their sexual horizons. Last year, they seduced a neighbor boy, then 14, when the girls were out of the house.

Elliget detailed what happened in his sex diary--the only part of the diary that has been made public. He called the encounter "Number 33."

The boy later recalled the event almost exactly as Elliget had in the diary--without Elliget's explicit language. The boy told detectives that Dick Elliget had led a blindfolded Laurie into the Elliget living room, turned on some "oldies" records and told her to "do her thing." Wordlessly, Laurie stripped off her clothes and reclined on a coffee table. The boy performed oral sex on Laurie, then, in his words, "proceeded to do it" with her as Dick Elliget stood by. Then the boy watched Elliget have sex with Laurie.

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