BENNINGTON -- After a seven-hour sentencing hearing Thursday, a judge sentenced a 61-year-old man with a history of molesting teenage boys to serve 20 years to life in prison.
Peter A. Goewey, of Autumn Acres Road, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated repeated sexual assault for acts he performed on a boy, who was between 13 and 14 years old in 2011 when the events occurred, in the parking lot of a local bowling alley. In the mid-1990s, Goewey pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor sex crime alleging similar behavior and received a suspended sentence.
Two adult males testified Thursday about incidents involving Goewey when they were teenagers. One said Goewey performed oral sex on him, while the other said Goewey attempted something similar. Goewey was not charged with doing so, and his attorney objected to the witnesses' testimony, however the state was allowed to have their stories considered in the sentencing.
"My determination is that you are a sexual predator, that you sexually offend against young males, you groom them, you isolate them, you assault them, and then you ruin their lives," said Judge Nancy Corsones at the end of the hearing. "Then you blame your victim. There's very little, if any, mitigation and I am convinced that you are a risk to reoffend."
Deputy State's Attorney Christina Rainville argued for Goewey to be given 40 years to life, while his attorney, Daniel McManus, asked for a "split sentence" of five years to serve with 10 to life hanging over Goewey should he fail on indefinite probation.
Aggravated repeated sexual assault carries a 10-year minimum, however Corsones had the option to halve it if doing so served the interest of justice. It was an option she chose not to take.
Corsones said the evidence established that Goewey and the boy's relationship began when the boy was 12 and continued through the boy turning 14. Goewey met him at the bowling alley and the two played pool together. She said there are conflicting reports of how many times the abuse occurred, but even the low estimate, four or five times, was "appalling."
The boy told police that Goewey performed oral sex on him in Goewey's vehicle while at the bowling alley. There were also allegations of Goewey asking the boy to send nude photos of himself and that Goewey paid the boy to keep quiet.
The state argued that because the boy suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as result of Goewey's abuse, he should be allowed to testify from outside the courtroom using the court's video system. McManus argued that the experts the state relied on for such a diagnoses were not qualified to give it, and that there was not enough evidence to tie the boy's reported behavioral problems with the abuse.
The boy's therapist, Lori Vadakin, testified that he would suffer a "freezing" response if called to the stand with Goewey in the room. He left the court at one point saying, "I can't do this," according to the therapist.
He was allowed to testify from another room with his image shown over courtroom monitors. Rainville asked him how school was for him after the incidents. "I didn't care about school," he said. "I just blew it off, didn't want to be there, wanted to go home."
While the boy has made progress in recent months, for a time he felt the need to carry in his boot a foot-long knife, which he took everywhere he went, including to school. He would lock the door to his bedroom, and when his family rallied around him he pushed them away. The boy said his grades dropped and he came close to being expelled from school because of his behavior. He said he also destroyed the walls to a relative's apartment.
"I punched the walls out, ripped ‘em out. Did everything I could to destroy something to try and make myself feel better, but it didn't work," he said.
Early in the hearing a man in his late 30s testified that when he was about 16 years old he was introduced to Goewey by a friend. One day he and his friend went for a ride with Goewey who supplied them with alcohol. The man said he drank enough to pass out and woke up to Goewey performing oral sex on him. He froze and pretended to be asleep, then feigned just waking up.
"I wish the cops listened to me at the time I brought it up," he said.
Another male in his late 30s told a similar story, saying Goewey supplied him with alcohol while out on a drive. He said Goewey kept touching his leg on their way back, and he noticed his zipper had come undone but as far as he remembers that is as far as it went.
"I am fully convinced that the assault and the attempted assault took place precisely the way (the males) testified to," said Corsones. "There is also a prior conviction, not just an allegation, but a prior conviction for prohibited acts which was pled down from a sexual assault against an 18-year-old male."
Corsones said the 18-year-old had a developmental disability.
Goewey told the court he was sorry for what he had done, but began his allocution by talking about how the boy kept asking him to play pool, then after losing wished to bet money on the game. Goewey said the boy won a small amount of money from him, but that was the only time money changed hands between them.
"It shouldn't have happened, I know that," Goewey said.
This did not help his case with Corsones, who said that the story, along with things Goewey told the Department of Corrections for his presentencing report, indicated Goewey was blaming his victim.
"His version is simply not worthy of credit and is not a mitigating factor in the way of sentencing," said Corsones.
McManus argued that doctors who examined Goewey said he was at a low risk of reoffending, and that there are programs and tools available that Goewey did not have access to after his first conviction. He said his client is getting older and has health problems, all factors making him unlikely to reoffend and follow through with sex offender treatment.
McManus was critical of the Department of Corrections, saying Corsones would be sentencing Goewey without knowing if he would ultimately be classified as a high-risk offender, or what the department's rules are regarding release dates when a defendant's maximum sentence is "life."
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.