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BSO deputy testified child porn evidence vanished

Deputy: 'You could clearly see children involved ... with grown men'

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Elizabeth Cole said she was stricken with horror when she saw the photos and videos on her husband's computer disc at their Pompano Beach condo.

"I remember jumping back from the computer screen when I saw those images," Cole said. "I felt so sick and distressed from what I saw that I went to the hospital ... It was just sickening."

She said what she saw that day in 2011 haunts her to this day in part because the case was horribly botched and justice has never been done.

"It was images of small children, I guess the word is prepubescent children, like the age of six," Cole said. "Boys and girls forced into sexual acts with adults."

At the time she already had a young daughter with her then-husband, local rock guitarist Giorgio Ardizzola, and was pregnant with a second.

Cole, who was 24 at the time, said she confronted her then 52-year-old husband and claimed he told her, "I'm a rock star. There's bound to be some strange things around here."

Cole said the discovery upset her so much she went to the hospital with what she thought were contractions and she believes it was the nurse at the hospital that reported the alleged porn to the Broward Sheriff's Office. Deputies came to the condo to investigate and reported finding child porn in Ardizzola's possession.

"I viewed the DVD, which had male and female children under 18 [years old] in different sexual situations," wrote Dep. Michael Catalano in his report. "Some of the children appeared to be as young as 10 [years old] and under."

Catalano reported that Ardizzola admitted possessing the porn but claimed it had been left behind by his roommate in 2005 and that he "downloaded it to turn over to police."

"He couldn't explain why he hadn't turned it in and why it was on a CD with his personal files," Catalano wrote.

Then-Sgt. Nathan Osgood was also on scene, and he would later testify in a deposition that there was "loads" of DVDs with what appeared to be adult porn on them in the apartment and that he suspected child porn may have been embedded in it. BSO ended up seizing a sampling of eight DVDs and three computers belonging to Ardizzola for their investigation.

"They never arrested him, never took him in for questioning," said Cole.

After deputies left with the evidence, she said Ardizzola pushed her to the floor and threatened her. She called 911 and Catalano returned to the scene, whereupon she left the condo with her daughter.

"He pushed me to the ground and I was terrified," she said. "The officers came back ... meanwhile Giorgio was in another room filling a black garbage bag full of more discs, homemade discs. ... [The deputies] advised for (me) to leave the house with my daughter."

Cole said she took that advice and never returned to Ardizzola. Since that night she said she has been fighting, so far successfully, to make sure he never gets unsupervised visitation with their two daughters.

But Cole said she couldn't understand why her ex-husband wasn't charged with possessing child pornography, a felony, until Osgood, who is now a major at BSO, was deposed in the divorce case. Osgood testified in detail about the child pornography involved in the case.

"You could clearly see children involved in sexual intercourse with grown men," he testified in 2012. "A lot of pictures ... I can tell you know a lot of it was well under 10-years-old."

Osgood was clear that he believed Ardizzola is a danger to children.

"He should not be unsupervised with any children," Osgood testified. "From my experience and what I've learned, the best way I can put it, it's more of an addiction. And it's not something that you can cure just by saying, 'I'm not having it anymore.' That's an addiction he has."

Osgood had a bombshell explanation for why there was no arrest made in the case: He testified that as he and other deputies were preparing to make a criminal case against Ardizzola, the child porn photos and videos vanished from discs while in the custody of BSO. He said a fellow deputy told him the evidence had vanished after they had viewed it on their BSO work computers.

"He goes, 'It's gone, it's not there anymore,'" Osgood recounted. "I said, 'What do you mean it's not there anymore?' He said, 'It's not there.'"

"It sounds like it could not even have been true, something that could have gone so wrong, that child pornography could have been erased," said Cole.

Osgood testified that he tried to recover the lost evidence.

"I called the forensic people ... hopefully to try to take it off my computer because sometimes you can leave a fingerprint," Osgood said. "And they were unable to retrieve it from my computer or the disc. But it was definitely there."

Cole's attorney, Cindy Vova, asked Osgood if the lost evidence killed a criminal case against Ardizzola.

"Had the materials not been erased or deleted accidentally, would you have forwarded [a case] to the state attorney to have an arrest issued in this?" she asked.

"Oh, absolutely," answered Osgood.

Friday night see Bob Norman's at times wild interview of Giorgio Ardizzola, who denies all wrongdoing in the case, and learn about BSO's own internal investigation into the botched case.