Dennis Pike Jr., 28, of Wilmington, is one of three men who pleaded guilty to the felony sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl on July 22, 2013. Pike also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of furnishing alcohol to a minor, as well as a misdemeanor, engaging in a prohibited act charge. A lewd and lascivious conduct charge against Pike was also dropped. Two other defendants in the case, Codie Johnson, 20, of Whitingham, and Jonathan Deblois, 21, of Readsboro, have agreed to similar plea deals and are awaiting sentencing.
As reported in July, police say the victim called 911 early in the morning on Tuesday, July 23, and reported that she had been raped by three men in Pike’s East Main Street apartment. The victim told police all three men participated in the assault. Pike, Johnson, and Deblois all admitted to sexual contact with the victim, claimed it was consensual, and that they believed she was 18. According to police affidavits, the men had purchased alcohol for the victim as well, and both Johnson and Pike told police that the victim had become drunk.
Through the plea deal, Pike will receive an 18- to 24-month suspended sentence on the prohibited act and enabling alcohol consumption charges, as well as a deferred sentence on the one count of sexual assault, after completing a five-year period of probation. Pike’s probation will include standard terms as well as the completion of a special program for sexual offenders.
State’s attorney David Gartenstein said that the state was satisfied with the terms of the plea deal based upon interviews with both the victim and Pike. Gartenstein said that the victim was brought up in a fractured environment and was the victim in another sexual assault case. Gartenstein also stated that the state believed Pike when he said he thought the victim was older, and that there was no reasonable way to believe she was under 16, the legal age of consent in Vermont. Gartenstein also said that while the victim was legally not old enough to give consent, she took part in what occurred that night.
“We want to give a chance to all three defendants to keep the felony charges off their record,” said Gartenstein.
Pike’s defense attorney Chris Montgomery told Judge Suntag that his client has always been straightforward and shown responsibility for what happened, as well as remorse. Montgomery said that it’s likely Pike will successfully complete the terms of his probation, and that the court would not see him again. He did ask that Pike’s probation require him to remain sober over the five-year span, since his only other previous criminal charge was driving under the influence.
Pike became tearful as he addressed the court. “I would like to say I’m very grateful for what has been given to me, for what I’ve done. I just want to apologize for what I’ve done.”
Suntag asked Pike if he believed that Johnson and Deblois looked up to him, as he was much older than they, to which Pike responded yes. “Somebody in that situation has to say ‘This is not right, this should not be happening,’” said Suntag. “The lesson here is you should have been that person. If you carry that with you, and impart that on others, it could help others.”
Suntag also said that Pike’s statements to police and probation officers were as detailed and honest as he had ever seen and that he had no reason to believe Pike would not be honest in the future. He also reminded Pike that if he violates his probation, the felony charge of sexual assault would be on his record permanently.
Deblois’ sentencing is scheduled for April 1, Johnson’s is April 29.