BRATTLEBORO &mdash A Newfane man will serve time after admitting guilt in a sexual-assault case where three accusers came forward.
Blake Dowley, 22, of Newfane, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and three charges of lewd and lascivious conduct during a sentencing hearing Monday at Windham Superior Court Criminal Division. He will serve three months in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. He also will be registered as a sex offender for 10 years.
A victim told police she started dating Dowley when she was 16 and they broke up after one month in summer 2014 after Dowley allegedly made requests for sexual activity several times. According to an affidavit from the Brattleboro Police Department, the victim said Dowley touched her breasts and did not stop when asked.
The victim claimed Dowley forced her hand onto his penis even though she told him she felt uncomfortable and said she was forced to give Dowley oral sex.
The victim also said Dowley had hit her when she didn't want him to touch her.
Another victim, who was 15 at the time of an alleged incident, told police she tried to warn the other victim. A third victim claimed Blake attempted similar maneuvers with her. At one point, the victim said Dowley shoved her hands down his boxer shorts.
"I will note that while the defendant has acknowledged responsibility, one of the more important factors in sex-offender treatment is developing empathy and understanding the impact of the crimes on the victim," said Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein.
The mother of one of the victims said her daughter's ability to trust had been broken.
"Her outlook on life changed. I watched my daughter, who was preparing to be a cadet in the police academy and taking criminal justice classes, quit school. She can't seem to have a boyfriend for over a few months since this happened," the woman said. "No part of me thinks that three months in jail is enough for what he has done."
Gartenstein said one of the victims also would have preferred a longer sentence. Another victim told Gartenstein she did not want to appear in court and was afraid of seeing Dowley. She and the other victim were "OK with the sentence" as structured, said Gartenstein.
"I think Mr. Dowley wanted to accept responsibility early on in this case," said Dan Davis, defense attorney. "Mr. Dowley chose not to have me go forth with depositions of [the victim's] cases, sparing them that unpleasant experience. He has been a hard worker since he graduated from high school. His employer says he's a very hard worker. He's never late. He always shows up for work."
Davis said he thought Dowley's work ethic would be applied in the sex-offender treatment and he mentioned how Dowley had some difficulties in school so Dowley may not be the "most articulate person" when it comes to questioning over how the victims feel.
"I am confident the court will not see Mr. Dowley back in here for similar or any other criminal behavior in the future," Davis said. "And I'm certain he will successfully complete his sex-offender program."
Judge Karen Carroll asked Dowley if he had anything to say.
"Just sorry," said Dowley.
Carroll said she would have loved it if Dowling would have "shed a few tears" but understood Dowling's insight into the crimes was limited.
"The court doesn't always just consider punishment. There's a lot of other goals the court considers like rehabilitation and protection of the public," Carroll said, adding that she felt those two items were taken into account. "I'm convinced ... this is an appropriate sentence."
Carroll said a three-month sentence for Dowley, who has never been imprisoned before, would be "something extremely significant."
Contact Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.