Thursday January 24, 2013

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- An Orchard Road man was held without bail Wednesday after he pleaded not guilty to felony charges alleging that he touched a woman's breasts and private areas on two occasions.

James Vollrath, 51, pleaded not guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct and was charged as a habitual offender, given previous felony convictions on his record, one being an aggravated assault from 2009 for which he was sentenced to serve between six months and five years for. He is scheduled for a weigh of the evidence hearing at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Anthony Silvestro, on Jan. 6 he spoke to an adult female who said between Jan. 4 and 5 Vollrath, who police said goes by the nickname "Chumley," touched her while she was moving out of her apartment in Bennington. She told police the first incident happened at the apartment she was in the process of leaving. She said she was on the couch and Vollrath sat down next to her and touched her breasts over her clothes. She said she told him to stop but he did not, and so she got up and left.

She said the second time was at the apartment she had moved to. She told police she had some friends help her and Vollrath was there. At one point they were all sitting on a bed and she rested her head against her friend. She said Vollrath then touched her over her clothes around her private areas and tried to put his hand down her pants. She said she told him to stop and had a male friend ask Vollrath to leave.

The woman said she does not know Vollrath well, only through the two friends helping her move.

Police said they spoke to the woman's two friends, and each said they witnessed Vollrath touch the woman at the second apartment and heard her tell him not to. The woman and the two friends also told police Vollrath had been drinking alcohol while none of them had.

According to the affidavit, Silvestro spoke to Vollrath on Jan. 15 at Vollrath's apartment. He wrote that Vollrath denied ever touching the woman but then said he had touched her side. According to the supplemental affidavit filed for the habitual offender enhancement, in addition the felony assault conviction in 2009, Vollrath was convicted of burglary in 1986 and forgery in 1989.