VCU police chief snared in sex sting http://www.privateofficer.com
Suspended Virginia Commonwealth University Police Chief Willie Fuller appeared briefly in a Chesterfield County court this afternoon for arraignment on charges of soliciting sex with a minor in an online sting operation.
Fuller, who appeared by video teleconference from the jail, did not yet have an attorney. A preliminary hearing was set for April 2.
After the hearing, Chesterfield Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Rigler said Fuller thought he was talking to a 14-year-old girl, not a detective, when the alleged offenses occurred Jan. 10.
“There was one day of chatting,” he said, “everything he was charged with happened on that one day.”
He was charged with two counts of using a computer to solicit sex from a minor and two counts of attempted indecent liberties with a minor.
Fuller is 50, but Rigler said he portrayed himself online as being about 35. Fuller’s screen name was hotcop2006, Rigler said.
Earlier today VCU said it had suspended Fuller without pay.
Virginia Commonwealth University Police Chief Willie B. Fuller has been arrested in an online sting operation in Chesterfield County and charged with soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl, police said today.
Police said Fuller, 50, was arrested last night at his home in the 9000 block of Meadowfield Court in Henrico County. He was charged with two counts of using a computer to solicit sex from a minor and two counts of attempted indecent liberties with a minor.
His arrest resulted from a sting operation that involved undercover detectives going to online chatrooms or other Internet sites popular with juveniles. The detectives then create fictitious posts and pose as minors.
Although police declined to provide more specific information in this case, meetings are usually arranged between the detectives and the people with whom they communicate, most of whom are seeking sex.
Chesterfield Police Maj. Dan Kelly said Fuller clearly believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl.
“I’m not sure which [Internet] medium the detective was using at the time it occurred,” Kelly said. “But it was part of our ongoing online efforts in these areas. When time permits, our detectives trained in this area will utilize their time and go online.”
Kelly declined to say when Fuller made contact and over what period of time.
“We’re going to wait to talk more about the investigation at a later time,” he said.
Fuller is being held without bond in the Chesterfield Jail pending a pre-trial hearing this afternoon in Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
VCU suspended Fuller without pay and appointed Carlton Edwards, a VCU police captain, as interim chief.
“We’ve taken action,” said VCU Rector Thomas Rosenthal. He said he received a call from university President Eugene Trani this morning about the arrest.
“We regard this situation as extremely serious,” Trani said in an alert sent to member of the campus community. “We have taken aggressive action to address it, and we will cooperate in all appropriate ways with the Chesterfield County Police investigation.”
Fuller came to VCU as police chief in 2000 from Virginia State University, where he was also police chief, said John M. Bennett, VCU senior vice president for finance and administration. Fuller also previously worked for VCU police.
Bennett said VCU instituted criminal background checks on all employees at some point after Fuller was hired, but he said he knew of no complaints against him.
He also said he did not know if any VCU computer equipment had been taken by Chesterfield police from Fuller’s home. Bennett said VCU did not plan its own investigaton.
Chesterfield Police Chief Thierry Dupuis notified VCU officials this morning of Fuller’s arrest, Bennett said. The board of visitors was notified and about 30 minutes later VCU President Eugene Trani alerted the university community by e-mail.
Bennett said Edwards, the acting chief, had been with VCU for 24 years and was the most senior captain on the force, which has 82 officers. Bennett said he met with the officers this morning and “they are stunned and shocked, as we all are.”
But he said there will be an orderly transfer of power. Edwards had filled in as chief previously when Fuller was on medical leave.
Fuller was an art student at VCU in the 1970s and worked as a student security officer. In a 2003 interview with The Times-Dispatch, he said it was from that experience that he found that he liked police work.
JOIN THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PRIVATE OFFICERSwww.privateofficer.com/
Get news alerts, officer down, weather emergency news in your mailbox! Sign up;firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us at www.myspace.com/privateofficernews
Come be part of our social network! http://www.privateofficer.com