The man who accused House Speaker Jim Weiers of discouraging him from talking to police about being molested by a longtime friend has changed his story, according to a notarized letter released by Weiers’ office Monday.
The letter, reportedly from Brendan Lybarger, states that, "Jim never told me not to talk to police, that is a statement made up by a reporter. I never used those words."
But according to a Mesa police report, Lybarger said Weiers discouraged him from speaking to police about an investigation of Art Vitasek, who has been charged with 26 counts of sex crimes against children. Vitasek, a longtime friend of Weiers, was recently profiled on "America’s Most Wanted" and has been on the run for the past year.
Weiers, who has not been considered a suspect in any crime, said he received the letter after talking to Lybarger over the weekend. Weiers said his wife made the initial call to Lybarger this weekend after learning about the accusations against her husband.
"This story is not about me," said Weiers, a Phoenix Republican. "I am not protecting a child molester."
Weiers said Vitasek is no longer a friend and was "shocked" last year to learn that he was suspected of sex crimes.
The Tribune reported Saturday that Lybarger accused Vitasek of molesting him 15 years ago when he was in his early teens. Lybarger told police that Weiers tried to discourage him from going to the police after learning that they were looking for Vitasek on suspicion of kidnapping his girlfriend’s child.
Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani said that during the investigation, one source led to another, which led to another, which led to Weiers. "He, actually, gave us some good intelligence and background information on Vitasek," he said.
Trapani said the letter would be given to investigators, who will look into whether Lybarger was "not wholly truthful."
"First and foremost, this investigation is about Arthur Vitasek," Trapani said. "Our goal is to get a child molester off the street."
Vitasek, 42, hasn’t been seen since January 2005 after he briefly vanished with his girlfriend’s 11-year-old son, which prompted an Amber Alert. The boy was found, and police said they believe he was molested.
Police said there may be as many as eight possible victims, with molestations dating to 1990.
Weiers said he met Vitasek in 1979, when he hired the then-teenager to work in his Texas restaurant. The two grew close enough that Weiers allowed Vitasek to live with him for 18 months, even after Weiers moved back to Arizona. Eventually, Weiers helped Vitasek earn an insurance license and get into the business of repossessing vehicles.
Weiers said the two remained on friendly terms, with their last contact in either December 2004 or January 2005 when they attended a Phoenix Suns game. A few weeks later, Vitasek fled the state.
Weiers said he met Lybarger through Vitasek, and would help Lybarger out over the years by lending money for various things such as rent. Weiers also said that Lybarger at one time worked for one of his companies.
Lybarger could not be reached for comment.