Written Statement regarding the discovery of wrongdoing and related confessions of Steven J. Sitler
March 15, 2005
The Sitlers have been some of our best friends as a family, particularly during the past 10 years. They have lived in my hometown of Colville, WA, ‘since I can remember.’ Steven has lived with my family in Moscow, ID, during the school year since August 2003, when he started college as a freshman. Our house has three levels; a basement, main-floor, and upstairs. Steven’s room is in the basement, having it’s own bathroom and exit/entrance. During the 2003/2004 school year Steven shared the basement bedroom with fellow student Riley Latham. During the 2004/2005 school year Steven has shared the room with Jayson Heslep, also a student. Our children’s bedrooms have been, and are, upstairs.
During the latter part of the week of March 1, two of our friend’s [redacted] (Pullman, WA) daughters, [redacted] stayed with us while [redacted] and [redacted] were out of town. On the night of Friday, March 4, [redacted] slept in the bedroom with my oldest daughters [redacted] (age 10) and [redacted] (age 8) on a trundle bed.
When we woke on Saturday, March 5 [redacted] told me that Steven had been in their room last night. She said that [redacted] woke, up and Steven was on the top bed with her. Apparently she didn’t know what to do. I believe she ended up scooting to the bottom bed with [redacted] and [redacted] (who apparently slept through this). None of the children told me about any inappropriate touching at this time. Steven’s car was gone. I called his cell phone, probably ~8:00 a.m., and he said he was at a study group.
When we were each at the house again (~1:00 p.m.) my wife and I confronted Steven about being upstairs. Steven confessed that he had been in the girls’ room, as accused. He said that he got a ‘wild hair’ and decided to go upstairs to lay his hands on and pray for the girls last night. At this point it was clear that he had broken our house rule that no boarder is allowed upstairs without specific invitation or permission, and that he had shown extremely poor judgement at the very least. I reprimanded Steven for his behavior, told him there was no excuse for this, and that we may need to speak to his parents and very likely [redacted] when they return. Steven said he realized it looked bad, and was very apologetic; he asked us to forgive him.
[note: this house rule was not in place last year. Steven did go upstairs with us to read or listen to stories or watch a movie with the children last year; the upstairs den was the only room with a television. I don’t recall a specific event, but we got a general feeling that it would be best to have a private area for our family where boarders would not be allowed. The no-boarder-upstairs rule was initiated in August 2004. Also, our children are not allowed to spend time downstairs in a boarder’s room, so they have been in Steven’s room on rare occasions with special permission only].
We took the [redacted] children home on Sunday, March 6th. They had arrangements to stay with another family until their parents returned on Wednesday. Sometime during the week I told Steven that I was going to apologize to the [redacted] and wanted him to go with me. He agreed.
I came home early on Thursday, March 10, with a bad cold. Since I was home, I called and spoke to [redacted] at around 4:00 p.m. to apologize for Steven’s behavior and see if we should visit. I explained the story as I knew it, not aware of inappropriate touching. She said that [redacted] had told her last night (Wednesday) that Steven was in their bedroom last Friday and that he touched her. The touching topic was not pushed with [redacted] at that time. I think they wanted to speak to us. [redacted] then informed me that my daughter [redacted] had apparently told [redacted] that Steven had touched her too. [redacted] suggested that I talk to [redacted]. This seemed odd to me because was not in that bedroom on March 4th. Before I had a chance to speak to [redacted], [redacted] ended up telling me that Steven had been in her room last year and touched her bottom; she apparently woke to find him lying on the floor next to her bed, reaching up and touching her. I asked her to show me, and she held out her hand and made a repeated squeezing motion. I went immediately to get Steven. The two of us spoke in private.
Steven confessed that he had touched [redacted] bottom, just as accused. When asked, he acknowledged that he had touched [redacted]. He confessed that he touched “her privates.” He did not tell me when this touching started. He did not say specifically how often; he only acknowledged that it was more than once. I asked about my other girls, and he did not admit to any further wrong touching. I think this is when Steven told me that he had just touched [redacted] head and back. I told him that he needed to move out of our house. I told Steven to confess these things to his parents because I wanted them to know before I called them. That evening Steven seemed to be calling his parents but could not reach them. I tried to call the Sitlers that evening too and was only able to leave a voice message asking them to return my call. I later called my pastor to get his advice on handling this situation, and I made an appointment to meet on Friday.
On Friday morning, March 11, 2005, I spoke with both Mr. and Mrs. Sitler about Steven. They called me. I don’t know what Steven told them, but it was clearly enough to convey the severity of the situation. They were devastated, shocked, and apologetic. They said that they wanted Steven to come home to Colville today, and we all agreed that the sooner Steven left our home the better. Steven checked with me to make sure it was okay to leave because we had planned to visit the [redacted] to apologize if they were available. I left a voice message for the [redacted] and told them Steven would be leaving by 10:00 a.m. He left on schedule.
After lunch, [Ground Zero Mother], my wife, and I met with our pastor. He advised us to report this incident to the authorities right away. I contacted Greg Dickison to get his council. He contacted the Latah County Sheriff’s Office for me, which resulted in my initial report provided over the phone to Tim Besst on Friday afternoon. I contacted Mr. Sitler to tell him that I must and would report Steven’s crime to the authorities; he understood the need to do so. I also spoke to [redacted] for the first time about the events that involved his daughter. I told him that I was going to file a report that would include [redacted] name (at this time, Steven’s story to me was not matching [redacted] story to her parents, which was more incriminating than I understood in my first conversation with [redacted].
[redacted] was reluctant to talk about details. I did not pressure her to answer questions. She did tell me that Steven touched her tummy. In late afternoon, my wife asked [redacted] if “this” was going on last year, and [redacted] acknowledged that it had been. [redacted] has been visibly comforted by the fact that we seem to know what Steven has done, and that he has gone away.
Sometime around 8:00 p.m. or later on March 11, Mr. Sitler called to say that Steven had not been entirely honest with me earlier. I agreed to speak to Steven. I think Mr. Sitler left the room for privacy. Steven elaborated on his earlier confession. He said that these things would come out and that I could hear it directly from him if I wanted. Steven confessed that he also approached [redacted] when she was asleep and rubbed his bare privates on her bare privates. He mentioned using Vaseline. He said that she is still a virgin. This did wake her up. (I think he committed this act a couple of times, but I’m not sure about number). He also mentioned lying with her on/near the heater vent in the hallway. Steven confessed that he was touching [redacted] last school year (which confirmed what [redacted] had told us), but I don’t know exactly when this started. Steven admitted touching [redacted] multiple times; it varied, but I think at least several times a month. Steven also confessed to touching [redacted] privates, once, when she was asleep. [redacted] did not wake up and would not remember. Based on his confessions and my discussions with [redacted] I believe Steven has not touched her. Steven additionally confessed that he had twice (I think) asked [redacted] (who is 3) to come to a bathroom with him at night; there he put his privates between her legs. I specifically asked Steven if he had touched [redacted] privates; he confessed that yes he had. Steven acknowledged that he knew that I had to tell the authorities about these things. Shortly after this, I ended the phone call, somewhat abruptly. The events that I’m aware of seemed to occur at night while my family was sleeping.
My family and I left for spring break vacation on Saturday morning, March 12 as planned. I visited with M.A. Lehmbecker to file a verbal report upon my return on Tuesday, March 15.
End of Statement by [Ground Zero Father]
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