Man awaits extradition to Vt. on sexual assault charges

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BENNINGTON— Maine State Police have arrested a man believed to be connected with the New Year's Eve sexual assault at a Bennington motel.

John Vautier, 41 of Harmony, Maine, faces felony charges of aggravated sexual assault resulting in serious injury, kidnapping, repeated aggravated sexual assault, and domestic first degree aggravated assault after police say he raped and assaulted his domestic partner on New Year's Eve at the Bennington Motor Inn.

An arrest warrant was issued for Vautier on Jan. 11 and after an "extensive search by Maine State Police" he was arrested as a fugitive from justice on Jan. 12 around 2 p.m. Vautier awaits extradition to Vermont to answer to the four felony charges.

The victim described Vautier's alleged actions against her in a Jan. 10 interview with Vermont State Police at the Shaftsbury barracks, In an affidavit written by Detective Trooper Lauren Ronan, Ronan notes that the victim had "visible" facial injuries including two black eyes and a missing front tooth.

The victim told police she and Vautier had been dating since 2016 and that he had assaulted her "multiple times," including a time where he wrapped a belt around her neck. She told police Vautier raped her on New Year's Eve 2018 after the two left a Bennington bar and drove to the Bennington Motor Inn.

While driving to the motel, Vautier and the victim got into an argument, and when they arrived at the motel, Vautier physically kicked the victim out of the car, states the affidavit. Vautier grabbed the back of the victim's head and hit her face on the outside of the windshield "at least three times," causing her to lose her front tooth and suffer facial injuries including a split lip.

While escorting the victim up to the motel room, Vautier raped the victim on the stairs of the motel, she told police. The victim said she screamed at the top of her lungs, but told police she did not believe anyone witnessed the assault.

When Vautier and the victim went into the motel room, he pushed her into a desk and she fell face first onto the ground, the affidavit states. The victim told police Vautier raped her again, then left the motel in a car. Around 9 a.m. Jan. 1, Vautier returned to the motel to pick up the victim, who told police at this time she "did not argue" with Vautier and left with him.

The victim also told police she fears that Vautier will "kill her, her family, and police."

Police investigated the car that Vautier and the victim drove in the night of the incident and reported that the car's windshield was broken "and consistent with someone's head hitting it." The affidavit also notes that there was "red blood stain" found throughout the interior of the car.

Judge William D. Cohen of the Criminal Division of the Vermont Superior Court in Bennington found probable cause for each of the four felony charges on Friday and Cohen has ordered Vautier to be held without bail when he arrives in Vermont.

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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