A July trial date has been set for a former trooper from the Delaware Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol who was charged with cyberstalking a woman in 2015.
William P. Elschlager, 48, of Marietta, Ohio, was charged on May 17 in U.S. District Court in Columbus with one count of cyberstalking and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
Judge Kimberly A. Jolson has scheduled Elschlager to stand trial before a jury on July 31. A pretrial hearing is planned for July 20 at 2 p.m.
Elschlager appeared in court on May 18, where he was read the charges and released on a recognizance bond. He appeared in court again on June 13 and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He surrendered his passport and was released on a recognizance bond. Jolson set the trial date at the second hearing.
According to the complaint, Elschlager was a lieutenant at the Marietta post of the highway patrol in 2015 when he began engaging in an affair with the wife of another trooper.
Court officials report Elschlager allegedly began stalking the victim in October 2015 after she ended their relationship. The affidavit alleges that he frequently followed the victim in vehicles, texted her knowledge of her whereabouts, and showed up at her residence unannounced.
In December 2015, Elschlager allegedly placed a GPS tracking device on the victim’s vehicle and conducted an unlawful traffic stop of the victim, during which time he turned off his audio recording device. Around this time, Elschlager allegedly told the victim that he had named her and her son on his life insurance policy. He had obtained their personal information from the personnel file of the victim’s husband.
District court officials stated that during that same month, the victim’s vehicle broke down due to a missing radiator cap and Elschlager arrived on the scene. Court documents state that search warrants obtained by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for Elschlager’s electronic devices revealed internet searches such as “how long can a car go without a radiator cap.”
Subsequent search warrants and investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in January 2016 showed GPS tracking software on Elschlager’s personal cell phone, which he had been using to track the victim’s vehicle for two months.
Investigators discovered video recordings and photographs taken through the window of a residence in which the victim was located. They also found law enforcement information and photographs generated from the driver’s licenses of at least 10 females on Elschlager’s personal computer.
The women confirmed that they were stopped by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper on the dates of the photographs, but they could not verify the name of the trooper.
Court officials said cyberstalking is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Deprivation of rights under color of law carries a potential maximum sentence of one year in prison.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported in 2016 that Elschlager was dismissed on Feb. 1, 2016, for “conduct unbecoming of an officer.” Elschlager had been a trooper for the highway patrol since 1997 and previously worked at the Delaware Post several years ago.
In 2011, Elschlager was ordered to destroy two firearms after an investigation was concluded. However, Delaware County prosecutors said last year while investigators were searching Elschlager’s Marietta home as part of the stalking case, they discovered that Elschlager had kept the guns for himself and not destroyed them. Prosecutors said one of the guns was still in the evidence bag.
Elschlager was indicted by a Delaware County Grand Jury in May 2016 and charged with one count of tampering with records and six counts of theft, third-degree felonies. He was scheduled to stand trial in November 2016, but it was delayed after he appealed a decision made by Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley.
The appeals case is still ongoing and a new trial in Delaware County has not been set.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.