Former State Trooper Charged with Cyberstalking, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A former law enforcement officer has been arrested and charged by criminal complaint with cyberstalking and deprivation of rights under color of law.
William P. Elschlager, 48, of Marietta, Ohio, was arrested yesterday evening by Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies and is scheduled for an initial appearance today in federal court in Columbus at 2:30pm before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terrence P. Kemp.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, and Washington County Sheriff Larry R. Mincks, Sr. announced the arrest.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Elschlager was a lieutenant with the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Marietta, Ohio, where he was the post commander. He had been employed with the Ohio State Highway Patrol for approximately 19 years.
Elschlager and the wife of a fellow Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper engaged in a sexual affair from April to September 2015, at which point the victim described Elschlager as being “creepy.” Specifically, according to the victim, she found a large ball of hair in the defendant’s home that he said he had made from hair he found in his house and that she believed to be her hair.
The victim said she also discovered digital folders on Elschlager’s iPad labeled with women’s names that included pictures of the women taken from social media accounts. For example, the folder in her name included pictures of the victim with her husband cut out.
Finally, the victim stated she would awake to Elschlager taking photographs of her sleeping when she did not know he was in the home with her.
Elschlager allegedly began stalking the victim in October 2015 after she ended their relationship. The affidavit alleges that he frequently followed the victim in vehicles, texted her knowledge of her whereabouts and showed up at her residence unannounced.
In December 2015, Elschlager allegedly placed a GPS tracking device on the victim’s vehicle and conducted an unlawful traffic stop of the victim, during which time he turned off his audio recording. Around this time, Elschlager also allegedly told the victim that he had named her and her son on his life insurance policy. He had obtained their personal information from the personnel file of the victim’s husband.
During that same month, the victim’s vehicle broke down due to a missing radiator cap and Elschlager arrived on the scene. Search warrants obtained by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for Elschlager’s residence and electronic devices revealed Internet searches such as “how long can a car go without a radiator cap.”
The victim said she became increasingly fearful of Elschlager and that on one occasion when she noted he was carrying guns on his person he responded: “I always have a gun on me. You’ve just never known it.”
Subsequent search warrants and investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in January 2016 showed GPS tracking software on Elschlager’s personal cell phone, which had been tracking the victim’s vehicle for two months. Investigators discovered video recordings and photographs taken through the window of a residence in which the victim was located. They also revealed law enforcement information and photographs generated from the driver’s licenses of at least 10 females on Elschlager’s personal computer. The females confirmed that they were stopped by an Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper on the dates of the photographs; they could not verify the name of the trooper that stopped them.
Cyberstalking is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Deprivation of rights under color of law carries a potential maximum sentence of one year in prison.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI and Washington County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Jessica H. Kim, who is prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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