Showing No One Is Above the Law
Former Wheeling police Lt. Phil Redford was given a very big second chance after an abuse of trust that, no doubt, outraged many parents. But now, Redford is accused of rejecting an opportunity to move on with his life.
Last August, Redford, a 21-year veteran of the force, retired. In January, he pleaded guilty to possession of material depicting a minor in sexual conduct. The material was a cellphone video.
But Redford’s offense could have landed him in more serious trouble. An investigation revealed that while serving as director of security at The Linsly School, Redford engaged in a relationship with a student. They met when she was 17 years old.
That could have sent Redford to prison for 10-20 years. But a plea agreement on the reduced charge was worked out.
Under that arrangement, Redford was not to have contact with the victim, now an adult, for three years.
He was required to register as a sex offender for 10 years. He was supposed to register the number of a cellphone he allegedly used to continue a relationship with the victim. As a convicted felon, he was not permitted to own a firearm.
State Police allege Redford broke all the rules — every single one of them, including the bans on owning a gun and having contact with the alleged victim in the previous case.
Redford already has been charged with two crimes. They are being a felon in possession of a gun and failing, as a convicted sex offender, to register the cellphone in question.
If the new charges against Redford are true, the courts have no realistic choice but to punish him severely. If accurate, the allegations indicate that he abused a position of trust in committing the initial crime — then again when the authorities found he could not be trusted to keep his word on conditions attached to the plea agreement.
There is another factor involved, of course, and it is one the courts must reinforce in this case: No one is above the law.