Devin Rokyta, for the editorial board
Disturbing isn’t nearly an adequate word to describe what unfolded Tuesday in Latah County 2nd District Court.
Then again, there may not be any words that could appropriately paint that sickness.
Despite information showing a convicted sex offender had “contact resulting in actual sexual stimulation” with the infant child he fathered, a judge is allowing the Moscow man, 30-year-old Steven Sitler, to continue to live with the boy — in the same house — provided there is a chaperone present.
Trouble is, there was a chaperone present when that “actual sexual stimulation” occurred. That chaperone may very well have been his wife, who was disqualified during the past month as an approved chaperone for failure to report disclosures related directly to the infant, but she may be reinstated with more training.
In 2006, Sitler was sentenced to life in prison under a Rule 11 plea agreement for lewd conduct with a child under 16. He served one year with the Idaho Department of Corrections’ retained jurisdiction treatment program and less than a year in 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.
None of us on the board is a lawyer, so maybe we are missing something, but we are having great difficulty understanding why Sitler was ever released from prison and is not still rotting behind bars. Keep in mind you don’t get a life sentence for statutory rape.
We are sure that Judge John Stegner has his reasons for allowing Sitler to be anywhere near this child, because, again, we aren’t experts in law, and perhaps there is much more to the story — but, as Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson pointed out Tuesday, it is what we don’t know that is most troubling. Thompson said Sitler has yet to successfully compete a polygraph test and there may still be more he hasn’t disclosed.
“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.”
We know that children fare better when they are brought up in a loving environment and with both parents involved. This is one case, however, that the farther away the child is from the father, the better.