Saturday February 2, 2013

BENNINGTON -- An application for a restraining order has led to felony charges for lewdness and unlawful restraint against a Manchester man.

Robert Bessette, 19, recently pleaded not guilty in Bennington Superior Court, Criminal Division, to two felony counts of lewd and lascivious conduct, and a felony charge of second degree unlawful restraint.

According to an affidavit by Manchester Police Officer Paul McGann, on Jan. 23 he and another officer went to a home on Main Street for a reported disturbance. There they met with a woman who said she and Bessette had been in a relationship with each other, but that was over now and they had been arguing. She said she wanted Bessette gone because she felt he would cause problems for her and her child, who was not there at the time. The woman said nothing physical happened between her and Bessette, only words.

McGann said police put the woman in touch with the Project Against Violent Encounters, an advocacy group for victims of sexual and domestic violence, and she said she would file for a temporary relief from abuse order against Bessette the next day.

According to McGann, he reviewed what the woman wrote to the court for the abuse order and noted she mentioned Bessette had tried to "force himself on me."

The woman met with police on Jan. 24 and told them that on Jan. 22 Bessette showed up at her place unannounced and put his hand down her pants and touched her breasts. She said at one point he pinned her to the floor and did this, as well as kissed her. She said the contact was not welcome and she told him so multiple times.

There was no indication in the affidavit that police spoke to Bessette.

-- Keith Whitcomb Jr.

Senate advances public union agency fees

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that calls on public employees who don’t join their union to pay the union an agency fee for representing them in collective bargaining.