COLUMBUS, Ohio — A former Ohio State Highway Patrol commander accused of stalking a subordinate’s wife after an affair pleaded not guilty Wednesday to new charges alleging he accessed or kept personal information about 10 other women that was obtained from a law enforcement database without authorization.
A Washington County grand jury indicted William Elschlager, 47, earlier this month on 10 counts of unauthorized use of the law enforcement automated database system.
A message was left for his attorney, who has previously raised questions about the credibility of the alleged stalking victim.
In that case, Elschlager previously pleaded not guilty to charges including abduction, criminal trespassing and menacing by stalking. He’s scheduled for trial on both sets of charges in late January.
The new counts involve personal details obtained from the database that law enforcement officials use to get information when someone is stopped for a traffic violation.
Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings said investigators searched a personal electronic device belonging to Elschlager and discovered that he had saved screenshots from the database system, The Marietta Times reported. Rings said the images included addresses, Social Security numbers and birthdates for different women — information that is intended for law enforcement purposes only and isn’t supposed to be copied or stored on personal computers or devices.
The indictment gives no details about whether Elschlager knew the women. A message seeking comment was left for Rings.
No single agency does nationwide tracking of how often officers misuse confidential law enforcement databases, but an Associated Press investigation found last month that scores of officers have done so in recent years. Through records requests to state agencies and big-city police departments, the AP found that law enforcement officers and employees who misused databases were fired, suspended or resigned more than 325 times from 2013 to 2015. In more than 250 instances, they received reprimands, counseling and lesser discipline.
The number of violations was surely far higher, given that the records provided were spotty at best and many cases go undetected.
In this case, the allegations were brought against a veteran trooper. Elshlager led the patrol’s Marietta post before he was fired once officials learned about the stalking allegations.
He’s also charged in Delaware County with stealing two guns in evidence that were supposed to be destroyed or returned when he patrolled in central Ohio. He pleaded not guilty in that matter, too.
Elschlager had been under home confinement, with an exemption for working at an auto service business, according to court records.