Man pleads not guilty in child sex case
BRATTLEBORO -- A Brattleboro man is denying accusations that he sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl.
Sean Stoltz, 25, was ordered to have no contact with anyone under 16 and to remain inside his Mountain Home Trailer Park residence after pleading not guilty on Friday to three felony charges including sexual exploitation of a child.
Though a prosecutor asked that Stoltz be held without bail, defense attorney Joanne Baltz successfully argued that her client should be released pending further court action.
"He doesn't have a (criminal) record anywhere," Baltz said in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division. "He has significant ties here. He can abide by conditions, including the no-contact conditions."
Brattleboro police Detective Jonathan Griffus said the state Department for Children and Families received a report of suspected sexual abuse of a child on May 23.
During a May 29 interview at Safe Place Child Advocacy Center, the victim told authorities that she had seen Stoltz's genitals and also said he had touched her inappropriately, according to a police affidavit.
On one occasion, the victim said, Stolz asked her to perform oral sex on him. The girl said she escaped and "locked herself in her room," court documents say.
The documents do not give specific dates for the alleged incidents. But during the interview, the girl told police that the last such incident had happened earlier that same day.
Stolz was arrested Thursday evening at his home.
In an affidavit filed Friday, police say the victim also reported that she had been abused by another man. However, no other person has been charged in the case at this point.
At Stoltz's arraignment, Windham County Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein said the suspect should not be released from custody. "I would note that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that sex abuse of a child is classified as a crime of violence," Gartenstein told Judge David Suntag.
But Baltz noted Stoltz's lack of a criminal history and pointed to several family members who had come to the courtroom to support him. Those relatives can help Stoltz, who is "disabled with physical issues and health issues," report to Brattleboro police each day for check-ins, Baltz told the judge.
Suntag acknowledged that it is "unusual for a person charged with this type of offense to be released." But Suntag said the circumstances of this case allowed for such a move.
"There's no history whatsoever of involvement with the criminal justice system in any way," the judge said. "There's no suggestion there's much of a flight risk."
He ordered strict conditions of release. Stoltz cannot have contact with the alleged victim or with any child, and he must stay inside his home 24 hours a day except for court-related appointments and to report daily to police. "If you stray at all -- and they'll be checking -- then you'll be in jail," Suntag told Stoltz.
The judge warned that even incidental contact with a child is not allowed. If Stoltz leaves his residence and sees a person under 16, "get in the vehicle and go where you're going, or go back in the house," he told the defendant.
In addition to the sexual exploitation count, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, Stoltz also is charged with one count of lewd-lascivious conduct with a child (15-year maximum) and lewd-lascivious conduct (five-year maximum).
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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