KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A School Street man who was convicted last year of exposing himself to a 15-year-old girl at a local laundromat was sentenced to serve between three and five years in prison by a Vermont Superior Court judge on Thursday.
Thomas King Sr., 49, was convicted in November of lewd and lascivious conduct. According to police, the incident itself occurred the year before at Paulin’s laundromat in North Bennington. A teenage girl said she was there and that King was staring at her for a time before he touched himself and exposed himself to her.
Deputy State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett argued for King to serve the full five-year sentence allowed by law. She said King was convicted in 2007 of prohibited acts after an incident in Montpelier that bore a substantial likeness to this one. She said King has not taken responsibility for his actions and has not been through sex offender treatment. She said two local colleges have also taken out no trespassing orders against King, alleging he was on campus near dorm rooms and behaving suspiciously.
King’s attorney, Christopher Montgomery, argued for a 26-month to five-year suspended sentence, saying he could be on probation until the court decided he no longer needed it, and could obtain treatment. He said if the court was inclined towards incarceration, a 14-month to three-year sentence would be sufficient.
During his allocution, King said despite the trial and case being "one-sided" he wishes to put this incident behind him. He noted he was honorably discharged from the National Guard and since coming to the Bennington area has tried to do good and be a positive influence on people. He said he has turned his life around since overcoming drug addiction in the early 1990s.
Barrett told the court that the victim in the case gave a statement to investigators saying the incident has left her fearful of older men and paranoid in general. While she has therapy for other issues, this has been one more thing for her to work through. She requested King be put in jail for life.
Bennington Superior Court Judge Cortland Corsones said he would take note of King’s service as well as his record in recent years, but the incident in Montpelier was not something he could discount. He noted King’s point that he did not refuse sex offender treatment, but was denied entry into a program. Corsones said the sentence he imposed would give King and incentive to get sex offender treatment.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.