ITHACA, N.Y. –– New York State Police Investigator Dennis Brown was recognized Monday for spearheading the investigation that led to the arrest, and later conviction, of a man who raped a child.

In July, Dale E. Morrissette, 21, of Dryden, was sentenced to five years of incarceration and 10 years of probation after pleading guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old and sending indecent materials to girls ranging in age from 12 to 16.

The investigation into Dale Morrisette relied heavily on victim testimony and cooperation to be able to engage in traditional police tactics for investigating sexual abuse. New York State Police engaged in a “controlled call” during the investigation, using the victim to lure Morrisette into a confession.

The Kiwanis Club of Ithaca-Cayuga recognized Brown on Monday for his efforts with the Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award.

District Attorney Matthew Van Houten spoke at the Kiwanis reception, giving the law enforcement present a piece of advice.

“As a police officer take away the word persistence. Think about that during your daily work because it’s a really important word,” he said. “It’s not a glamorous word necessarily but it’s a word that can make a difference – in your cases and in the community.”

Senior investigator for the State Police in Ithaca, Aaron Lewis, said this case took patience and persistence.

“A lot of the times these young girls aren’t that cooperative. They are consenting to this type of activity even though they can’t consent under the law,” he said. “When Dennis first interviewed this young woman she was not cooperative at all … but he was persistent and worked closely with (child protective services). Additional interviews were conducted and he won the girl’s trust over.”

According to previous court records, Morrissette sent sexual messages, photographs and videos to four girls between the ages of 12 and 16. He also asked young girls to send him nude photographs of themselves and threatened to inflict self-harm or engage in violence if they did not comply, records state.

Brown joined the state police in Ithaca in July 2018. However, he now works at Troop C headquarters in Sidney.

Investigator Brown is glad that he could bring the defendant to justice but warns parents to keep an eye on their children’s social media activity.

“A bigger problem would be people not monitoring what their kids are doing on social media,” he said. “I think some of these could have been prevented. … I see it as a pattern of behavior that unfortunately is more and more common with the use of social media.”

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com