A convicted child molester -- who once was "mentored" by Republican state Representative Jim Weiers -- was in Maricopa County Superior Court this morning, where he was sentenced to some pretty serious prison time.
Judge Peter Reinstein sentenced Arthur Vitasek to 559 years in prison after he was convicted of multiple counts of sex-with-a-kid related crimes.
According to various news reports from the time of Vitasek's 2006 arrest, from 1990 until 2005, Vitasek molested several young boys -- ranging in age from 7-15 -- in Mesa, Paradise Valley, and Phoenix.
An Amber Alert was issued for Vitasek in January 2005 when he was on the run with an 11-year-old traveling companion. The boy was later found at an apartment in Tempe, but Vitasek was long gone.
Vitasek remained one of Arizona's most-wanted fugitives for nearly a year. He was arrested in Texas on sexual assault charges in September of 2006. When he was arrested, Vitasek was using the alias "Rich Loper."
Authorities in Texas determined that "Loper" was actually Vitasek, and that he was wanted in Arizona on dozens of child molestation charges.
In November, Vitasek was convicted of each of the more than 30 charges.
Despite being a violent pervert, Vitasek had a pretty powerful friend in Arizona -- a friend who once was accused of trying to cover up Vitasek's crimes.
Weiers and Vitasek had been friends since 1979. The two met when Weiers hired Vitasek to work at a restaurant he owned in eastern Texas. Weiers told police in 2006 that he was impressed with Vitasek's hard work and moved by his rough childhood -- so he became Vitasek's "mentor."
Vitasek eventually moved in with Weiers, his wife, and their young child in the Weiers' Texas home. Two years after Weiers moved to Arizona, in 1989, Vitasek moved, too -- again, living with Weiers, his wife, and their growing family, which then included three young children.
Vitasek stayed with the Weiers for a few months before finding his own place.
After it was revealed that Vitasek was routinely molesting children, several of the victims alerted police to Vitasek's relationship with Weiers, who was then the speaker of the House.
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One victim even told police that Weiers encouraged him to not talk to police about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the representative's pal.
"I deny ever trying to . . . suggest that [the victim] not cooperate with the authorities," Weiers said of the allegations at the time. "To go ahead and suggest that I'm anything other than what I've been is absolutely wrong."
Weiers was never charged with a crime. Read more about the alleged coverup here.