BRATTLEBORO — A local man is facing up to 15 years in prison after police found digital messages and photographs linking him to a sexual relationship with a minor.
Stephen G. Severance, 48, of Brattleboro, appeared at Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to two felony charges involving lewd and lascivious conduct. He was released on conditions.
A female victim told Brattleboro Police Department officers that Severance started kissing and touching her when she was 15. The victim said Severance would touch her thighs and buttocks, choke her and bite her stomach.
"There was an incident where, I never told anybody this, but he took me to a hotel and took my clothes off," the victim told police, according to an affidavit. "(He) ended up raping me."
Witnesses said Severance had screen shots of the victim nude on his phone. Those photographs were originally sent through Snapchat, a social media application available on mobile phones. The victim told police he forced her to send the pictures.
Police obtained a search warrant for Severance's electronic devices on June 19, 2014. The next day, the Chesterfield, N.H., Police Department located Severance at his residence in Chesterfield with a loaded hand gun and a lengthy suicide note, according to the affidavit. He was taken to Cheshire Medical Center for a mental health evaluation.
Images and messages were retrieved from devices in the investigation. Letters from Severance to the victim also were found.
"I miss fooling around with you and wish it didn't have to end," one document titled "How I wish I was 17" stated. "I miss the feel of your skin. I miss kissing you."
Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.