BRATTLEBORO -- A Brattleboro man who pleaded guilty Wednesday to one federal count of possession of child pornography could spend eight or more years in prison.
Robert A. Chase, 50, has been in federal custody since he was arrested in July 2012. His arrest followed a report to the Brattleboro Police Department that he had sexually assaulted a child under the age of 13. He is currently facing two state counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Masterson, the guidelines for the federal charge call for a sentence ranging from 97 to 120 months, though there is no mandatory minimum. During the hearing on Wednesday in federal court in Rutland, Masterson recommended the judge sentence Chase to 97 months in prison.
"The judge is free to apply the sentencing guidelines or disregard them," she said. "They are advisory."
A condition of the plea agreement calls for Chase to plead guilty to the two state charges, she said.
Windham County Deputy State’s Attorney David Gartenstein said he was aware of the federal plea agreement, but had no information on when Chase might resolve the state charges leveled against him.
"As of this date, no change of plea hearing has been scheduled in state court," said Gartenstein.
Masterson said if Chase pleads guilty to the two state charges, his federal sentence will run concurrent with his state sentence. His sentencing on the federal charge is scheduled for April 22 in Rutland.
She thanked the Brattleboro Police Department and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for their work in developing the case against Chase.
According to an affidavit filed on July 18, 2012, in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division, Chase was interviewed in April 2012 after the Brattleboro Police Department received a complaint about his actions with an underage child.
During the interview, Chase admitted to inappropriate contact with a child.
During the investigation, police were also told that Chase had sexually abused and taken pictures of a child several years ago. Police then obtained a search warrant and performed an analysis of computers and CDs found in the home, during which police discovered a number of videos depicting child sexual abuse. In addition, Chase’s computer contained images that appeared to have been taken by Chase of a young child, stated an affidavit filed in Windham District Court Criminal Division.
Upon his release from prison, Chase will be required to register as a sex offender and is subject to supervision for a period extending from five years to the end of his life. He will also be required to undergo sex offender evaluation and treatment. He will also be prohibited from having contact with anyone under the age of 18 except in the presence of "a responsible adult who is aware of the nature of the defendant’s background" and will be prohibited from any areas where children are likely to congregate, stated the plea agreement.
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.