January 21, 2003, 12:55 PM EST
ALBANY, N.Y. # A former U.N. weapons inspector was arrested in 2001 during an Internet sex sting operation and was under investigation for a similar incident months before his arrest, according to published reports.
The arrest of Scott Ritter, 41, who served as a weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-98, was first reported by The Daily Gazette of Schenectady on Saturday.
Ritter, an outspoken critic of President Bush’s plans for war against Iraq, was arrested in June 2001 for allegedly trying to lure a 16-year-old girl he met on the Internet to a Burger King restaurant.
The underage girl turned out to be an undercover investigator posing online as a minor as part of a police investigation of Internet sex crime and Ritter was charged with attempted endangerment of a child, the Daily News reported Sunday. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.
WNYT-TV in Albany reported at the time that Ritter, whose full name is William Scott Ritter Jr., allegedly tried to meet the girl so she could watch him perform sexual acts on himself.
Albany County Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Preiser agreed to have the case adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, meaning the charge would be dropped if Ritter stayed out of trouble for six months, and the case was subsequently sealed, the newspaper said.
Two months earlier, Ritter, a former Marine intelligence officer, tried to meet a 14-year-old girl he chatted with online and was instead met by police officers, the Times Union of Albany reported Tuesday. Ritter was released without being charged.
Ritter was scheduled to leave for Iraq late Tuesday after a signing in San Diego Monday for his book “Endgame: Solving the Iraq Crisis” and could not be reached for comment.
When contacted by the Gazette last Friday, Ritter denied any knowledge of the incidents.
“Sorry, you must have the wrong person,” Ritter told the newspaper.
Ritter’s lawyer, Norah Murphy, did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
District Attorney Paul Clyne fired Preiser last week because he said she failed to inform him about a “sensitive” case, but would not say what the case was.
“Legally and ethically, I cannot comment on any matter which has been sealed,” Clyne told The Associated Press.
A telephone listing for Preiser was not available.
After serving as a U.N. weapons inspector for seven years, Ritter resigned in 1998, saying Iraq remained “an ugly threat” and the Clinton administration was doing too little about it. He also said he felt the United States was manipulating the inspections effort for political purposes.
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press