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.

* Did Dick Elliget use the sex diary for purposes of "insurance" and "blackmail," as alleged by B.J. Elliget and former Mesa cop Russ Staton?

* Was Elliget protected from charges of sexual harassment by a Mesa police supervisor who was sexually involved with Elliget's wife?

* Were Elliget's commendations for valor a result of his close relationship with that same supervisor?

Because the actions of the County Attorney's Office and the Mesa Police Department have created a cover-up of the real story, the remaining officers on the East Valley force who insist on integrity must carry on without knowing the full extent of the corruption of their colleagues.

And there is another casualty in this matter: The people of Mesa must face the fact that there is one standard for police investigation when it involves ordinary citizens and a second, more benign standard when the probe focuses upon officers of the law.

"This sort of case is very corrosive within a department and repugnant to the average guy on the street," says former police attorney Jack LaSota. "At the first allegation of blackmail or influence, you had to examine what effect being involved with the Elligets had on assignments, promotions and discipline. What message does this send to the officers trying to get by on merit?

"It seems to me that with the diary and all the other stuff the prosecutor had, you are depriving the community of the chance to get this guy on the witness stand. That is an unnecessary concession."

In the midst of all this smarm, says a veteran sex-crimes detective, one person set the right example: Stacie Elliget, he says, "is a real hero."

"She was looking out for herself, sure, but her sisters were the most important thing," says the detective. "That's what being a hero is all about."

Dick and Laurie Elliget's four daughters have been wards of the court, living in crisis shelters and foster homes, since shortly after their parents' arrests. And how does Stacie Elliget assess what the police, prosecutors and press have done in this case? "What a crock," says the young woman, who will turn 17 next week, the day after her father's scheduled sentencing. "What a crock."

"She was looking out for herself, sure, but her sisters were the most important thing. That's what being a hero is all about."

Dick Elliget was the ringleader in a circle of sexual depravity that reached into the upper echelons of the Mesa Police Department.

"I wasn't consenting," Stacie Elliget says angrily. "I was molested."

Prosecutors have deemed Dick Elliget's sex crimes "nondangerous" to children and "nonrepetitive." It wasn't hard for someone like Dick Elliget to flourish in a department so riddled with skeletons. "I try to keep my career separated from my personal life as much as possible," Dick Elliget told a reporter.

"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."

"Just the way he looked at me, he scared me. I figured if I did it and got it over with, he'd leave me alone."

"The key is the diary," one cop says. "Everything is hush-hush about it, because it's got names and dates in it."

Stacie Elliget mentioned a secret compartment beneath a dresser drawer in the master bedroom.

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