Former Guard recruiter pleads guilty in sex misconduct cases

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Sandra Chapman/13 Investigates

A former Indiana Army recruiter now admits to assaulting female enlistees under his charge. Eric Vetesy, 38, entered a plea deal in Hamilton County that could surprisingly keep him out of prison.

Stripped of his position and uniform with the Indiana Army National Guard, former Sgt. Eric Vetesy will join the ranks of Indiana's registered sex offenders for what he did to young female recruits under his authority. He declined comment on his case.

On Thursday in Hamilton Superior Court, Vetesy pleaded guilty to ten criminal counts including corrupt business influence, official misconduct and sexual battery.

13 Investigates spoke with Vetesy's former commander in July about the betrayal of trust and proposed stronger laws against recruiters who cross the line.

"It's just absolutely pathetic that a recruiter could do such a thing," said LtCol Ivan Denton, Indiana Army National Guard.

Prosecutors say from May 2002 to October 2003 he forced sexual acts on seven young women he recruited from high schools in Hamilton County.

"So many victims, and many of them have been deployed," said Sonja Leerkamp, Hamilton County prosecutor. "A number of the victims did not want to come back for a trial."

In April 2005, a grand jury indicted Vetesy on 31 counts. Those charges could have come with prison time, but under the plea deal, it's likely he won't sit behind bars. Instead he'll undergo an assessment with the Hamilton County Community Corrections "which means work release or home detention with electronic monitoring will be possibilities," said Leerkamp.

"I'm sure there are going to be a lot of people questioning the decision to not insist on him going to the Department of Corrections," Leerkamp said.

Leerkamp says it's what the victims wanted. "He's getting consequences here and they essentially did not want to go beyond that," she said.

The Indiana Army National Guard implemented a "no one alone" policy for recruiters and their enlistees in response to Vetesy's case. Since then seven recruiters have been fired for violating it, including Sgt. Terry Taylor. A former teen recruit says Taylor fathered her child.

State lawmaker Mike Delph says stronger penalties are needed. "We decided to try to add military recruiters to the child seduction statute," said Delph (R-Indianapolis).

Vetesy's attorney says the proposal would have made no difference in his case. Final sentencing will be determined by a judge. But under this plea agreement, Vetesy must register as a sex offender.

"It's just absolutely an embarrassment to the military and all you can do is apologize and just say this is in no way representative of the other recruiters that we've got," said LtCol Denton.

Vetesy's sentencing is December 20th.

Betrayal of Trust - Read 13 Investigates' report on this issue.