After pleading guilty Wednesday to sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl, a School Street man is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail, his lawyer said.
Alvin J. Reed, 74, of Bennington, changed his plea in Bennington District Court to aggravated sexual assault on a victim younger than 13 years old, one of three charges for which he had been arraigned in December.
As part of the plea agreement the state will ask for no more than a 10-year minimum for his prison sentence and dropped the other two charges of aggravated repeated sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
Reed has a history of sexual crimes against minors. He was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl in 1974.
Bennington County Chief Deputy State's Attorney Christina Rainville told Judge John Wesley that the situation had been very difficult for the girl and her family who had a "very, very difficult time" but said the family was "comfortable" with the plea agreement and supported the resolution.
Rainville said with the plea agreement in place, the girl would not have to be deposed or testify in a courtroom, which was important to her family.
"That is their absolute focus, your honor, that this will help their child start getting this behind her and not go through that trauma (of a trial)," she said.
While the state is capped to 10 years as a minimum sentence, there is no agreement about the maximum amount of time for which they can argue. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Bennington County Public Defender Frederick Bragdon, who represents Reed, is not restricted by the plea agreement on what minimum sentence he can request.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Bragdon said he had advised Reed that because of his age, any sentence was likely to be a sentence of life imprisonment.
According to Bragdon, Reed had decided to change his plea "because he doesn't want to put the child through any more."
Bennington Police Detective Lawrence Cole said in an affidavit that he had begun investigating the case in December based on a report from a woman who knew the girl.
In an interview with Cole and Vermont Department of Children and Families Investigator Melissa Shea, the girl said Reed had touched her many times from the time she was 5, with the most recent incident, Cole was able to determine, at the end of November.
Reed was interviewed on Dec. 15 and while he initially said he had accidentally touched the girl on one occasion and claimed that she asked him to touch her again later, he later confessed.
"When asked what he thought about what he had done to (the girl), Reed told us, 'It was a nasty, sickening thing that I did,'" Cole wrote.
Reed's sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the Vermont Department of Corrections prepares a pre-sentence investigation.