Vt. teen pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 13-year-old in West Lebanon libraryBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
March 12. 2018 8:17PM
NORTH HAVERHILL - A Vermont man pleaded guilty Monday to sexually assaulting a 13-year old girl last summer in a bathroom at Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon.
Appearing before Justice Lawrence MacLeod in Grafton County Superior Court, Tyler M. Benson, 19, of White River Junction, pleaded guilty to one count each of misdemeanor sexual assault and misdemeanor simple assault in connection with an incident that occurred at the library on Aug. 17, 2017.
MacLeod accepted the pleas, and per a fully-negotiated agreement with the state, sentenced Benson on the sexual-assault charge to 12 months in the Grafton House of Corrections, stand-committed immediately. He suspended half of Benson's sentence for two years and gave him credit for eight days of pretrial confinement.
On the simple assault charge, MacLeod sentenced Benson to 12 months in the HOC, all suspended for two years.
In between accepting his pleas and imposing his sentences, MacLeod directed Benson to sign a document acknowledging his responsibility, upon his release, to regularly sign in with the state's sex-offender registry, warning that Benson's failure to do so could have serious consequences.
Even though the state amended the charges against Benson down from what had originally been four felonies, those he pleaded guilty to on Monday, said MacLeod, are “serious charges.”
Nonetheless, in light of Benson's youth, remorse, short criminal history, and because the victim and her father had agreed to it, MacLeod said he would impose the recommended sentence, calling it an “appropriate sentence.”
Asst. Grafton County Atty. Mariana C. Pastore said that had Benson's case gone to trial, the state would have introduced witness testimony, including from the victim and Benson, as to what took place in the library bathroom.
She said when Lebanon police officers came to the library around 7:32 p.m. last Aug. 17th to investigate a report of unruly teenagers inside, they found a person, later identified as Benson, in a bathroom stall, refusing to open the locked door.
When Benson eventually opened the door, he came out with the girl and both of them initially gave police incorrect ages, said Pastore. During a follow-up, officers learned that Benson was an adult and that the girl was a minor.
The girl later told police Benson had placed his hand in her pants and that he had also grabbed her neck.