Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Robert Pratt Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Boy
"It struck me as this is something you would see in a movie or on television and yet it was here in Bennington," Bennington County Prosecutor Erica Marthage said.
Marthage says she was skeptical when police told her they had evidence that Robert Pratt, 37, of Bennington, had repeatedly sexually assaulted and physically abused a boy in his care for six years.
The police say the boy was victimized between the ages of 10 and 16 while he lived with Pratt in an apartment building in Bennington.
Marthage says the evidence confirmed a horror story about how the boy was tortured.
"I definitely would call this torture," Marthage said. "He was locked in his room... He was kept without food and water and denied access to bathroom facilities, repeatedly abused."
Pratt has reportedly admitted some of the allegations to police. Investigators say Pratt told them the boy agreed to the sexual activity. The police did not buy it. Pratt was arrested and jailed at the state prison in Rutland.
Tuesday he was still in the prison when he was arraigned in Bennington on a half dozen charges at the district Court in Bennington via interactive video. He pled innocent to all the charges that included repeated sexual assaults on the child in his care, kidnapping, and domestic assault with a firearm.
Police say they only learned about the crimes after the boy-- now 17-- reported them for the first time to his mother and a counselor in recent weeks.
The prosecutor was shocked it took so long.
"You know he lived in a complex while this was happening with very close neighbors," Marthage said. "What were those people thinking was going on? What were his teachers thinking was going on? He had attended school."
During the six years of alleged abuse, prosecutors say the boy was not living with his mother and she was unaware of any abuse.
The judge granted the prosecutor's request that Pratt be held without bail on the charges that carry a potential maximum sentence of life behind bars plus 72 years.
More Information: http://www.benningtonbanner.com/ci_12806005