BRATTLEBORO -- Two men have admitted their role in the July sexual assault of a juvenile at a Wilmington apartment.
Dennis T. Pike, 27, of Wilmington, and Codie J. Johnson, 20, of Whitingham, each entered guilty pleas to three counts in connection with the incident in which they had been accused of "taking turns" with the victim.
They will be sentenced at a later date. Still pending in the case are charges against a third suspect, 21-year-old Jonathan Deblois of Readsboro.
In accepting pleas from Pike and Johnson, Judge David Suntag explained that they were giving up their rights to trial and appeal and could be forced to talk about their crimes in court if Deblois' case goes to trial.
"You can be compelled to come to that trial and testify under oath about what you know," Suntag said.
The three men were arrested in late July after police received a report from a victim who claimed that "she was raped by multiple male suspects in an apartment" in Wilmington.
"She remembered that all three males 'took turns with her'" on the evening in question, court documents say.
The Reformer does not identify victims of sexual assault.
Affidavits filed by Wilmington police and Vermont State Police say all three men admitted to sexual contact with the victim but claimed it was consensual. Given the victim's age, however -- she was under 16 -- she was not legally able to give that consent. Deblois told police he thought the victim was 18.
There also was drinking involved, with Deblois and Pike buying alcohol for the victim and drinking at residences in Jacksonville and in Wilmington, affidavits say. Pike and Johnson, in interviews with police, noted that the victim was drunk. At one point, "Pike believed she was losing her balance because of her intoxication level, which was believed to be high," a State Police affidavit says.
The assaults took place at Pike's apartment, police said. The Wilmington man -- the oldest of the three -- took trash and a mattress pad to a Dumpster the next morning "to destroy any evidence of the incident occurring at his residence," the affidavit says.
On Wednesday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division, Johnson pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual assault and a misdemeanor account of prohibited acts. Pike pleaded to felony sex assault and one count each of prohibited acts and furnishing alcohol to a minor. The latter two counts are misdemeanors.
The plea deals call for a deferred sentence on the felonies, which would allow Johnson and Pike to avoid jail time and eventually have their felony convictions expunged as long as they complied with all court orders during five years of probation. If they do not successfully complete probation, they would be facing jail time on the felony convictions.
The misdemeanor plea deals include a probationary sentence for both men, and those convictions would remain on their records. Those sentences have not yet been imposed, however, and the plea deals are subject to review and approval by Suntag.
"When you come back (for sentencing), that's when the court will decide whether this is an acceptable agreement or not," Suntag told Pike.
Both men remain free on bail pending sentencing. In Johnson's case, defense attorney Jesse Corum successfully requested that his client's mandatory police check-ins be modified to allow him to report three days a week to either Brattleboro or Wilmington police.
Deblois is scheduled to next appear in court Jan. 6 for a pre-trial conference.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.