BENNINGTON -- A River Street man is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl over a period of years.
Robert L. Gibbons Jr., 53, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Vermont Superior Court to aggravated sexual assault of a victim under 13, and repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child. The first charge, if convicted, carries a 10-year minimum sentence, while the second carries a minimum 25-year sentence. Both have life maximums. Gibbons is being held without bail until a hearing which will determine what, if any, conditions there are he can be released on that will ensure future court appearances.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Anthony Silvestro, on June 5 he spoke to a 16-year-old girl who had told a parent the night before about being sexually abused by Gibbons since before the age of nine. She said Gibbons lived with her family in Bennington, and that he would offer her things in exchange for sexual contact. She said when she was 9 years old, she realized there was something wrong with this behavior and did not want it to happen more.
The girl said Gibbons took her into a room and removed her pants, then touched her. She said this happened multiple times, and as it went on Gibbons began sexually assaulting her. According to her, he would also make her touch him. She said she would scream and tell him to stop, but he would force her.
This would happen when no one was around. If her parent came home and found her crying about it, she would say she had a bad day.
At some point, Gibbons moved out of the home, but she would visit on weekends.
Silvestro called Gibbons on June 9 and tried to arrange an in-person interview with him. He said Gibbons appeared to be trying to avoid said interview, so Silvestro told him it could be done over the phone.
Gibbons initially denied any inappropriate activity with the girl, but then said he had touched her prior to the age of 12, then when she was older had sexually assaulted her. This happened multiple times, he said. He admitted to telling the girl not to talk about it, and said he was speaking to Silvestro now because he feels guilty about his behavior.
The phone conversation ended without Gibbons telling Silvestro where he was. Later that day, he left a voice mail with Silvestro saying none of what he admitted to was actually true and he did not want to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.