BENNINGTON — A Bennington man who was charged in 2021 with nine counts of possessing and sharing explicit videos of a man sexually abusing children as young as 6 on his Instagram account took a plea deal Thursday that allows for no jail time.
Michael Powers, 28, was charged with 10 counts — nine related to promoting or possessing child pornography and one of resisting arrest. If found guilty, he was facing a maximum combined 30-year sentence on the four felony counts of sharing child sex abuse materials, and an additional combined 10 years on five charges of misdemeanor possession of child sexual abuse materials. The resisting arrest charge carries a one-year sentence.
Powers did not speak at Thursday’s hearing in front of Bennington Superior Court Judge Kerry McDonald-Cary, except to plead guilty to two of the charges, one of sharing a recording of child sexual abuse material and one of possession of child sexual abuse materials, both felonies.
The state, represented by attorney Robert Lees of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, dismissed all seven remaining counts as part of the deal. Powers will be sentenced at a later hearing after a psycho-sexual evaluation is conducted, and a pre-sentencing investigation by the Department of Corrections is complete.
The plea arrangement worked out between both parties calls for a combined four- to 10-year sentence, all suspended, with a 10-year probation. Powers will also have to register on the Vermont sexual offender registry. McDonald-Cary will have final discretion on the exact sentence Powers will receive. According to the deal, he will not serve any jail time.
During the hearing, McDonald-Cary asked several times whether Powers agreed with the basis of the charges he was pleading guilty to. “I just want to be sure,” she said. “This wasn’t an accident, Mr. Powers. You knew what was in that video file?”
“Yes,” Powers responded.
As Powers pleaded guilty, his elderly mother, sitting in the back of the courtroom in a wheelchair, quietly sobbed, at one point covering her face with her sweatshirt as her head fell forward.
When approached after the hearing by the Banner, Powers simply said, “I’m sorry this happened.” Then, he loaded his mom into their car and drove off.
Powers’ sentencing has yet to be scheduled. He is free on several conditions, including restrictions on his proximity to minor children and a ban on his possession of an internet-accessible cellphone or computer. He is not allowed any access to the internet, pornography, or any cameras or video recording devices, including any photo storage devices.