Friday March 12, 2010

Button arraigned on grave charges.

BENNINGTON -- A local teenager accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl is now facing charges for allegedly assaulting a second girl.

Justin Button, 17, pleaded not guilty in Bennington District Court on Feb. 9 to sexual assault without consent. On Feb. 16, he was charged with another count of sexual assault without consent as well as a repeated aggravated sexual assault charge.

According to court documents, Detective Trooper Tyler Burgess interviewed a 9-year-old girl in January who described being assaulted by Button two years earlier.

Then in February, the State’s Attorney’s Office asked Detective Michael Plusch to conduct a follow-up interview with a child that the 9-year-old indicated had also been assaulted by Button.

Police had investigated the case between 2007 and 2008. They spoke with a daycare provider who cared for the girl. According to police, the provider reported being told by the girl that Button behaved inappropriately. The provider also claimed that Button’s mother said her son and the girl had been seen touching one another.

Police said the girl gave confusing and inconsistent statements while being interviewed. In 2008, the girl was interviewed a second time and she described sexual activity with Button. Plusch said the girl repeated the description to him last month, and described the incident as having happened in a bathroom.

Button was sentenced to diversion for tipping over a number of tombstones in May 2009, but last month he was removed from the program. He was arraigned Wednesday on the tombstone vandalism charge, a felony.

Bennington Police Officer Thomas Bull was dispatched to the Village Cemetery last May in response to a report of a male knocking over headstones, according to court documents. Bull said that two people living nearby witnessed the activity and described Button. Bull said that Button said he had gone through the cemetery as a shortcut.

Bull said that seven stones were tipped over and that fixing them would cost about $200.

Button was released on the condition that he abide by a 24-hour curfew and have no contact with anyone under the age of 18.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.