BRATTLEBORO -- A Westmoreland, N.H., man pleaded not guilty on Friday to allegations that he inappropriately touched two children.
Millard Waite, 73, was arraigned in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on two felony counts of lewd or lascivious conduct with a child. Both stem from incidents that allegedly happened in Brattleboro over a period of several years.
Waite was released on conditions that he have no contact with the alleged victims, their parents or any other child.
"The state doesn't believe he should be having any contact with children under 16," Windham County Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein said.
Brattleboro police Detective Jonathan Griffus wrote in an affidavit that the investigation began in February based on information from the Vermont Department for Children and Families.
A girl had reported that Waite had "touched her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable," court documents say. In a subsequent interview with investigators, the girl reported that Waite had touched her genitals under her clothing.
Police say those incidents happened between 2006 and 2010.
The other victim told investigators that Waite had touched her "in very weird spots that aren't normally supposed to be touched," court documents say.
The victim "stated she will try and slowly get up, but M. Waite will put his arm around her waist and pull her back into him," the affidavit says. The victim "stated it makes her feel disgusted, and (she) didn't know why he did it."
The incidents involving the second victim happened between 2010 and 2014, police said.
At Waite's arraignment on Friday, defense attorney James Valente argued that the charge involving the alleged second victim should not move forward due to a lack of evidence in the police affidavit.
"There's no evidence that any of the touching was on private parts or of an overt sexual nature," Valente said.
Gartenstein, however, argued that "intent is inferred based upon all the circumstances and facts."
"The child herself described it as a weird touching in spots that normally aren't supposed to be touched," Gartenstein said.
Suntag found probable cause to allow both charges, saying that, "although the touching involved (with the second victim) could be innocent, it could also not be innocent."
Both lewd/lascivious counts carry penalties of two to 15 years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine, or both.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.