Deblois, 21, of Readsboro, pleaded guilty in Windham Superior Court on Tuesday to one charge of sexual assault of a minor under the age of 16, and two misdemeanor charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor and engaging in a prohibited act. Deblois is the second of three defendants to be sentenced in the case, in which he and two other men admitted to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in July 2013.
Deblois will receive a five-year deferred sentence for the sexual assault charge, meaning it will be cleared from his record if he completes the terms of his probation. The two misdemeanor charges, which each received suspended sentences of nine to 12 months, will remain permanent.
Deblois was initially charged with seven counts on July 23, two of which stemmed from an incident on July 18 in a Brattleboro parking lot, and included a lewd and lascivious conduct charge and a sexual assault of a minor charge. Deblois was also charged with three counts of sexual assault, one count of lewd and lascivious conduct, and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor, stemming from an incident that occurred in Wilmington on July 22.
While the other two defendants in the case, Dennis Pike Jr. 28, of Wilmington, and Codie Johnson, 21, of Whitingham have both pleaded guilty to assaulting the victim in Pike’s Wilmington apartment on July 22, Deblois pleaded guilty to a sex assault charge stemming from the previous incident in Brattleboro. The two misdemeanor charges Deblois pleaded to stemmed from the incident at Pike’s apartment in which the defendants admitted to supplying the victim with alcohol, and, according to court documents, “took turns” having sex with her. All three defendants agreed to similar plea deals in the case, and all three claimed the sexual contact was consensual and they believed the victim to be 18 years old.
State’s attorney David Gartenstein said that while the victim appears to be under 16, the state believed the defendant’s claim that he believed she was 18. “There were some questions we had about whether it was reasonable or plausible for the defendant to conclude or believe she was 18,” said Gartenstein. “Under the circumstances, and given his (Deblois’) lack of (criminal) history, and given the events at issue here, we do think it’s appropriate for there to be convictions on his record, and for the defendant, an opportunity to work off the sexual assault conviction with probation.”
Suntag became concerned that the charge Deblois was pleading guilty to did not match the assaults of July 22, and referenced the affidavit’s mention of handcuffs being used in the July 22 incident as well as the “repeated attacks” on the victim. “There are facts alleged in the affidavit that make this a much more serious offense than addressed here,” said Suntag.
Gartenstein replied that depended on the characterizations given to the statements in the affidavit. “There may have been handcuffs there that were part of, I wouldn’t call it consensual activity, but sexual contact and activities involving cooperating people, and there were multiple people involved in having sexual contact with the child.
“I do not recall the probable cause affidavit being written including statements concluding this was forcible rape compelled without consent,” continued Gartenstein.
Deblois told the court that he was remorseful for what he had done. “I just want to say I’m sorry to everyone,” said Deblois. “I feel bad for this girl and if I could go back in time and change it I would.” Deblois also said he planned on straightening out his life as he is an expectant father.
Deblois will be required to register as a sex offender, and comply with normal as well as special sexual offender terms for his five-year probation term. On March 13, Suntag accepted similar plea terms at Pike’s sentencing. Johnson is scheduled for sentencing on April 29, and has also been offered a similar plea deal.