BRATTLEBORO >> A plea agreement will see a local man serve 30 days in jail and 10 years on probation with sex offender conditions.
"The Department of Corrections, in its pre-investigation report, recommended three days in jail based upon particular challenges the defendant faces," said David Gartenstein, deputy state's attorney.
After consulting with the victim's family, Gartenstein said, the state was willing to lower the portion of the jail sentence to three weeks and the court accepted the terms. The probation period will be considered a suspended sentence.
Jonathan M. Bundy, 21, of Brattleboro, was originally facing four charges: repeated aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault on a victim under the age of 16; lewd and lascivious conduct with a child; and contributing to juvenile delinquency. He pleaded guilty to the last two counts at a sentencing hearing Tuesday.
According to the Brattleboro Police Department, a 13-year-old victim claimed she had intercourse with a 20-year-old male, later identified as Bundy, after meeting him on the social media website Facebook. The victim told Bundy she was 14 years old. The victim told investigators it was "the worst relationship ever" and that she was not allowed to speak with other men or go to downtown Brattleboro. She said she starting lying to him and broke off the relationship. She said she was scared and felt like Bundy would stalk her after the break-up.
"(Bundy) got her back into drugs and they would do cigarettes, marijuana and pills," an affidavit said, referring to the victim's account of events. "The intercourse happened at his house and Memorial Park by the cabins (in late July or early August 2015)."
The victim told investigators they had sex seven or eight times. She also mentioned a similar incident involving Bundy and another minor.
"She's a very vulnerable at-risk child," Gartenstein said of the victim at the hearing. "The evidence in the file would indicate that the sexual contact between them really was the result of controlling, exploiting, manipulative behavior of the defendant."
The agreement requires Bundy to register as a sex offender for 10 years. His defense attorney Kevin Rambold said the suspended sentence "looming over" Bundy requires him to comply with strict conditions.
"That's going to take some work. And if he messes up on that, he understands there are going to be consequences," Rambold said. "Mr. Bundy has had a tough go of it. It's important to note that he's taking responsibility for this. He was willing to take responsibility for this from the outset. That's why we were able to come up with the agreement."
The call for a lower prison term involved the DOC not wanting to "destabilize" Bundy in the community, said Rambold. Bundy has a job and pays rent to his mother in order to share space in a motel. His social and anxiety issues also were brought up.
In court Tuesday, Bundy apologized for his actions.
"I am sorry," he told Judge Katherine Hayes.
"He feels terrible about this," said Rambold.
Hayes referred to Bundy's youth.
"I don't doubt that both (the victim and Bundy) function as if considerably younger. They were not equals. They were not by any means equal," Hayes said. "He did take advantage of her. I sadly don't doubt she won't be affected by these events in the future. She will be affected by this highly unhealthy relationship, which was colored by the use of substances — alcohol, marijuana and the like — at a very young age."
Hayes noted the difficulty in being on probation for a decade, telling Bundy "it's really important you work with them (probation officers) and see that you're a team."
"Even though it's going to be a long haul, you can do it as long as you remember you're not alone. They're going to work with you to help make sure you're successful."
Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.