Idaho sex offender allowed to return home with child

Judge said the offender must continue to have an approved chaperone present, within his direct line of sight, at all times he is around his infant child


By Samantha Malott
Moscow-Pullman Daily News

MOSCOW, Idaho — A Latah County 2nd District Court judge ordered Tuesday that a convicted sex offender, Steven Sitler, must continue to have an approved chaperone present, within his direct line of sight, at all times he is around his infant child in the wake of new disclosures of "contact resulting in actual sexual stimulation."

Sitler, 30, of Moscow, was sentenced to life in prison, with retained jurisdiction, in September 2006 under a Rule 11 plea agreement with the state for lewd conduct with a child under 16. He served one year with the Idaho Department of Corrections' retained jurisdiction treatment programs and less than a year in the custody of the Latah County Jail before being released onto probation. Under the terms of his probation, Sitler is prohibited from associating with anyone under the age of 18 without supervision of an approved chaperone.

During Tuesday's review hearing, Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson said the state originally requested a review of Sitler's conditions of probation to provide guidance on how to move forward given the fact Sitler had fathered a child and the results of a polygraph test had disclosed concerning actions.

Thompson said information the court now has "shows (Sitler) has had contact with his child that resulted in actual sexual stimulation." Thompson said the incidents in question occurred while Sitler was chaperoned.

"In some extent the state's worst fears appeared to be realized by some of the recent disclosures in the polygraphs," Thompson said.

"The actions that he has engaged in and disclosed are a compelling basis that he cannot have anything close to a normal parental relationship at this time with his child," Thompson said. "Everybody would love for Mr. Sitler to become a normal person, but the fact is he is not. He is a serial child sexual abuser.

"The best way to protect is to prohibit contact except in direct line of vision with a responsible, approved chaperone. At this point in time, that means he would not be able to reside with his wife and child."

During a review hearing Aug. 1, Sitler was allowed to continue living with his son until a second review hearing could be held. However, during the past month, Thompson said, Sitler's wife was disqualified as an approved chaperone for failure to report disclosures related directly to the couple's son and Sitler was required to move out of their home.

Latah County 2nd District Judge John Stegner did not rule Tuesday on whether Sitler can live in the home or not, only that he must have an approved, "line-of-sight" chaperone present at all times when with the child, Thompson said.

Stegner said Sitler's wife could be reinstated as a chaperone with additional training at the Valley Treatment Centers.

Stegner also said Sitler must go through relapse prevention therapy and complete and pass another polygraph test. Thompson said it is troubling that Sitler has yet to successfully compete a polygraph test and it is concerning that there may still be more that hasn't been disclosed.

Dean Wullenwaber, Sitler's defense attorney, said Sitler was not told until Tuesday that the Idaho Department of Corrections would try to remove his wife and parents as chaperones. He added that Valley Treatment Centers is now taking a more restrictive approach in its recent statement compared to its stance four weeks ago.

"It is possible to achieve all of the Idaho Department of Corrections stated aims without trying to perform surgery with an ax, as they have done," Wullenwaber said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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