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UN ex-weapons inspector faces sex-sting trial

/ Source: The Associated Press

A longtime U.N. weapons inspector who became a fierce critic of the Iraq war is scheduled to stand trial in an online sex-sting case.

Scott Ritter, 49, of Delmar, New York, is charged with engaging in a sexually graphic online chat with an undercover police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl.

Ritter, charged with unlawful contact with a minor and other counts, has pleaded not guilty. Opening statements in his trial are scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in Stroudsburg, in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A former U.S. Marine captain, Ritter served as a top weapons inspector in Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War. He resigned in 1998, accusing the United States and the U.N. Security Council of failing to take action after Iraq blocked access to suspected weapons sites.

Later, Ritter insisted that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction and that President George W. Bush had failed to make a legitimate case for war.

Ritter was charged in New York a decade ago with trying to lure an undercover police officer posing as a 16-year-old girl to a restaurant. The charges were later dropped, and he said in 2003 that the case was designed to silence his war criticism.

In the Pennsylvania case, Ritter got online with an undercover Barrett Township police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl from the Poconos, investigators said. Using the screen name "delmarm4fun," Ritter claimed to be a 44-year-old man from Albany, police said.

He allegedly voiced concern about the supposed girl's age and said he did not want to get in trouble, but he engaged in a sexually graphic chat and then turned on a webcam and masturbated on camera, authorities said.

Police traced the Feb. 7, 2009, exchange through a cell phone number Ritter provided, and confirmed the match through photographs, according to a police affidavit.

Defense lawyer Todd Henry did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press. Prosecutor Michael Rakaczewski declined to comment Monday.