INSIDE THE ELLIGET FAMILYSTACIE'S AUNT AND UNCLE TRY TO RIDE OUT THE MESA POLICE SCANDAL'S SHOCK WAVES
Because of his conflicting emotions, Mesa police officer Tim Elliget isn't sure if he'll ttend the sentencing of his disgraced ex-cop brother, Dick, for sex crimes against children.
But Tim's wife, B.J., plans to be in the courtroom tomorrow morning (November 14). She's the Mesa woman to whom Dick's 16-year-old daughter Stacie turned for help last July. Stacie went to her Aunt B.J. after Dick sexually molested her and photographed her in nude poses--many of them with her mother, Laurie. The revelations blew the lid off a far-reaching sex scandal inside the Mesa Police Department ("The Scandal at the Mesa Police Department," November 6.)
"I'll sit in the back of the courtroom in dark glasses and listen to the nonsense," B.J. tells New Times. "I know that Dick is getting a nice plea bargain and it's not right. But I'm curious at how they're pinning the whole thing on him when his wife was in on just about everything. I hate that woman and what she did."
Dick Elliget, 37, faces up to a 14-year prison term for his crimes. But under the plea bargain, he likely would have to serve no more than seven years if Judge Steven Sheldon orders the maximum sentence. (Laurie Elliget has pleaded guilty to abusing her daughter and faces a maximum of one year in jail at her scheduled sentencing next month.)
"No matter what Dick did, he was a good cop," says Tim Elliget. "I still love my brother, though I obviously in no way agree with or condone what he's done. I don't want him to rot in prison, but I hope he gets enough time to think about what he's done."
For B.J. Elliget, this has become more than a terrible case of incest that happened to her in-laws. And it's more than the Mesa Police Department's cover-up of Dick and Laurie Elliget's sexual encounters with higher-ups and others in the department.
Stacie Elliget's plight awakened in B.J. the painful memories of her own experience as a victim of sexual molestation.
"The night that Stacie came to me," B.J. says, "I saw the pictures and they made me sick. She told me what had been going on in that house. She told me how she had gone to her mother and begged for help, but got shot down. I think it's awful that this mother didn't help her daughter. She told me about the sex diary Dick had been keeping on all the Mesa cops who Dick was having sleep with her slutty mom.
"I told her it wasn't going to be pretty, that cops were involved. I told her she didn't have to feel guilty about anything. It was when I finally had a chance to think that my own troubles really started."
It was B.J.'s own tale of woe, finally coming to the surface. "Stacie's story and the whole thing sent flashes through me," she says. "It came back to me about my stepbrothers molesting me over and over when I was a little girl back in Ohio. I had tried to put that stuff out of my mind, but this pulled it back out--things like when I told my own mother about being molested and she beat me up. In helping Stacie, I saw myself, and I got very, very depressed."
B.J. says she entered a mental hospital only a short time after Stacie came to her. She stayed at the hospital for a month and now is receiving outpatient treatment and seeing a counselor.
Tim and B.J. praise their niece Stacie for granting an interview with New Times. "I'm really glad that Stacie got to speak her piece," Tim Elliget says. "We are glad that the story was written the way it was written, because most of it is truthful as we know the truth."
B.J. Elliget says she admires her niece's courage. "Stacie is 16 going on 30 and she's like a mommy to her three younger sisters," says B.J. "She wanted everyone to know she wasn't a girl on the street that Dick picked up and seduced. She was his daughter. Those girls are all going to have scars for the rest of their lives. They didn't learn the right things."
B.J. recently returned to her job at a Mesa restaurant. She says she's feeling better these days, but adds, "I'm not about to put this all behind me, and I probably never will. I'm angry for what Dick and Laurie have done to this family financially, emotionally, in every way. And you know something? I'll bet you that Laurie will get her kids back, as disgusting as she is. This is one hell of a world."
While the Elligets are trying to sort it all out, the Mesa Police Department's top officials have issued press releases denying that there has been a scandal or cover-up.
B.J. Elliget says she doesn't want to cause any trouble for her cop husband by badmouthing the department. "But I will say that some other police agency besides Mesa should have handled this case," she says.
Numerous officers have complained that the Elliget investigation has been incomplete, at best, because the Mesa department is probing itself. Police reports have indicated that evidence was tampered with.
Detective Kay Miller wrote in a report that a previously unnoticed "secret compartment" in the master bedroom had been gone through between the first and second searches of Dick Elliget's house. Tim Elliget and his father, Dick Elliget Sr., acknowledged that they removed guns and other items from the house in that time period.
Miller later questioned Tim Elliget, who denied any knowledge of the compartment. The matter remains unresolved, though Tim and Dick Elliget Sr. are irate at being linked with possible wrongdoing.
"We didn't do anything bad in that house," says Dick Elliget Sr., a civilian Mesa Police Department employee.
Adds Tim Elliget, "What happened is that the Mesa police had released the home back to the family after the first search warrant. We had no intent to look for anything or remove anything pertaining to the criminal case--nothing. I'm a crime-scene officer. Would I break the law or risk my career by pulling open some drawer and running off with evidence? It just didn't happen."
B.J. Elliget says, "I know that Tim and his dad did nothing wrong or illegal in there, but it just looks bad for a police department to investigate itself and its people."
Tim Elliget adds that the turmoil in the police department doesn't begin and end with his brother. "Dick got caught up in a situation that's still going on in this department," says Tim Elliget, speaking of the spate of sex-related incidents involving Mesa officers. "This hurts to say, but I don't know too many police departments or businesses or whatever that are going to `do' superiors--I mean, to get to the bottom of things."
"In helping Stacie, I saw myself, and I got very, very depressed."
"I'll bet you that Laurie will get her kids back, as disgusting as she is. This is one hell of a world.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.