LATE ONE NIGHT, after everyone else had gone to bed, Dick told Stacie to take off her clothes.

"Let me massage your whole body," he whispered. "Take off your shirt and bra and I'll just give your whole body a little somethin'."

Dick squirted some baby lotion into his hands and went to work. He rubbed Stacie all over, front and back, spending time on her breasts, buttocks and genitals. He told her over and over, "You have a beautiful body."

Forty-five minutes later, Mesa police officer Dick Elliget finally stopped sexually assaulting his 16-year-old daughter.

BY LAST JULY 27, Stacie had had enough of the sexual abuse that had gone on for years. Her parents were in San Diego for the weekend. Stacie telephoned her aunt, B.J. Elliget, and told her about the massage.

Stacie also told her aunt of nude photography sessions her father had made her submit to. She said over and over how frightened she was for her three sisters, age 13, 9 and 7.

Nearly hysterical, B.J. drove over to the house. Stacie showed her aunt some of the photographs. Stacie's mother, Laurie, had posed naked with her daughter in some of them. In others, her father had made Stacie fondle herself.

Things moved quickly. The next morning, Mesa police executed a warrant to search the Elliget home. Investigators found the photographs and other incriminating evidence, and hours later arrested Dick and Laurie Elliget at Sky Harbor International Airport.

Stacie's decision to report her father ended his reign of terror inside the Elliget household. But Dick Elliget was not only a child molester. Investigation into his abuse of Stacie revealed a situation potentially devastating to the City of Mesa. Dick Elliget was the ringleader in a circle of sexual depravity that reached into the upper echelons of the Mesa Police Department.

But the extent of the corruption within the Mesa Police Department may never be known. The police department has hidden its misconduct from the public, and county prosecutors have acted in complicity with that cover-up by allowing Dick Elliget a plea bargain that will likely free him in less than seven years.

The County Attorney's Office declined to bring more serious charges against Dick Elliget as leverage, forcing him to reveal the full extent of police wrongdoing. The Valley press has also assisted in the cover-up. Public records showing that the Mesa Police Department was protecting itself have been available to reporters for weeks. However, news stories based on these documents have produced little of substance about the situation.

Although Dick Elliget declined an interview with New Times, police reports and other public records as well as interviews with sources inside and outside the Mesa Police Department reveal the following:

* Dick Elliget arranged for Mesa cops, including command-level supervisors, to have sex with his wife Laurie. Elliget kept a diary and file cards on these extramarital encounters as "insurance . . . so that certain people will not touch him," Dick's sister-in-law B.J. Elliget told investigators.

MDRV * Three years ago, Russ Staton, a Mesa police officer suspected of child molestation, told a detective that Dick Elliget would someday be investigated for a similar crime. In a deviation from commonly accepted police procedures, the investigating detective did not follow up that lead.

* Russ Staton also claimed to have been sexually blackmailed by a fellow Mesa cop. He said he had been conned into having an affair with the cop's wife. Staton was referring to Dick Elliget. Again, detectives did not pursue the lead, and missed the chance to uncover the widespread sexual misconduct in the Mesa Police Department centering around Dick Elliget.

* Internal affairs guidelines dictate that when one officer accuses another officer of blackmail and child molestation, those allegations must be pursued. Instead, the Mesa Police Department sought to keep its misdeeds under wraps by offering Russ Staton a deal to simply go away. * The County Attorney's Office assisted in the current Elliget cover-up when it permitted the Mesa Police Department to investigate the child-molestation case against Dick Elliget. This was done even after Elliget's sex diary implicated police higher-ups and showed how the department had been compromised.

* The original supervisor in the Elliget case was Mesa Police Department Lieutenant Bill Hamilton. Not only is he a friend of the Elligets, but he is also one of those named in the sex diary, say sources in and out of the Mesa Police Department. (Hamilton was eventually taken off the case, and he has failed to respond to verbal and written inquiries from New Times.)

* Dick Elliget's brother Tim--also a Mesa cop--and his father Richard Sr.--a Mesa police civilian employee--removed guns and other potential evidence from the Elliget house during the investigation. Mesa police detectives have never determined all that was taken from the crime scene.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin