Thursday April 4, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Sex assault charges the state brought against two Bennington Rural Fire Department members in December for having alleged sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl have been dismissed.

Bryan Watson, 25, of Chapel Road, pleaded not guilty on Dec. 17 to sexual assault on a victim under 16. On Dec. 21, Zachary Spaulding, 21, of Silver Street, pleaded not guilty to repeated aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault without consent, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Both were released under conditions, among them to not have contact with the girl.

Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville filed motions to dismiss without prejudice the charges against Watson and Spaulding on March 22.

"The State is dismissing the case not because of any change in the evidence, but rather, because, prosecuting the case is not in the best interest of the child-victim at this time," Rainville wrote in her motion. "The State expressly reserves the right to re-bring these charges at any time until the expiration of the statute of limitations, which presently would not expire until the victim is 24 years old."

Rainville did not return calls seeking comment, nor did attorney Christopher Montgomery who represents Spaulding. Bennington attorney Michael Munson, who represents Watson, said he had no comment on the case.

Both were members of the Bennington Rural Fire Department last year. According to the department’s LocalFirehouse.com page, Watson is a captain in the department.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Anthony Silvestro, on Nov. 15, 2012 he learned from the Department of Children and Families that a 14-year-old girl had told another juvenile about sexual contact she’d had with Watson the year before. Silvestro said the girl first told him nothing happened between her and Watson but later the girl’s mother called Silvestro saying she had told her daughter that the girl’s iPhone and computer had been given to police. The mother said her daughter said something did happen between her and Watson and asked police to talk to her again.

Silvestro said he and a DCF investigator talked to the girl on Nov. 27 and while reluctant, the girl described sexual activity between her and Watson. She said Watson would touch her and she would tell him to stop, but one time she did not tell him. During that interview the girl told police about sexual contact she had with Spaulding that summer.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr