Image: Scott Ritter
Rich Schultz  /  AP
Scott Ritter walks out of a court room in Stroudsburg, Pa., on Tuesday.
updated 4/14/2011 9:38:27 PM ET 2011-04-15T01:38:27

A former U.N. weapons inspector nabbed in an online sex sting was convicted Thursday on six counts, including unlawful contact with a minor, for exchanging explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl in a chat room and then performing a sex act on himself.

Jurors in Monroe County convicted 49-year-old Scott Ritter, of Delmar, N.Y., on six of seven counts. He was acquitted on a criminal attempt charge.

Ritter had no reaction as the verdict was announced. His twin 18-year-old daughters sobbed.

Ritter was one of the U.N.'s chief weapons inspectors in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. He resigned after accusing the United States and U.N. of failing to get tough with Saddam Hussein. Later, he said that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction, and he became a vocal critic of the U.S. invasion.

Prosecutors said Ritter exchanged explicit messages with a detective posing as an underage girl and masturbated during an encounter in a Yahoo chat room on Feb. 7, 2009, even after the undercover officer stressed during the chat that he was a minor.

"That was his fetish. He's an exhibitionist. That's what he is," Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Michael Rakaczewski said Thursday in his closing argument.

Rakaczewski pointed out that Ritter briefly turned off the camera at one point and typed that he didn't want any trouble, then turned it back it on and completed the act.

"The jury reached the right decision," Rakaczewski said after the verdict. "They saw the case for what it is and the defendant for what he is and what he did."

"Even though a person may know what they're doing is wrong, they may be intelligent enough to try to avoid and get away (with it)," Rakaczewski said. "Sometimes, the internal drive to engage in these types of deviant sexual behaviors is just too strong."

Neither Ritter nor his attorney, Gary Kohlman, commented outside court.

Sentencing is for next month. Each of the five felony counts carries a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison, but Ritter is likely to get much less under sentencing guidelines.

Kohlman acknowledged in his closing argument that jurors were likely "troubled and offended" by the graphic chat and video of Ritter that prosecutors played, but said they were required to put aside their personal distaste because "this is not a referendum on whether anybody in the courtroom approves of adult chat rooms."

He said the case turned on Ritter's intent. "Mr. Ritter makes clear as a bell that as far as he is concerned, he was dealing with an adult and it was a fantasy," Kohlman said.

Ritter was arrested in New York on similar charges a decade ago. In that case, Ritter twice arranged to meet people who claimed online to be underage girls but who turned out to be undercover police in Colonie, N.Y. The charges were eventually dismissed and the case was sealed.

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