Bail denied for molestation suspect (7/9/09)

July 9, 2009
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

A Vermont District Court judge ordered a Williston man accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl to be held without bail.

Judge Patricia Zimmerman believed Robert Kolibas, the man accused, was a flight risk and did not want him leaving jail while his case works through the courts. Zimmerman specifically cited Kolibas’ trip to Maine immediately following a police investigation into the alleged molestation as a cause for concern.

“These are offenses that involve felony crimes of violence,” Zimmerman said after a bail hearing on July 1.

Kolibas is accused of drugging and fondling the teenage girl, a friend of his daughter, during a sleepover on May 30. He is charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, second degree unlawful restraint and giving a drug to a minor.

During his arraignment on June 22, Kolibas was denied bail after pleading not guilty to the charges.

Kolibas then appealed the denial of bail, which led to the hearing on July 1.

Briefly touched upon during the hour-long hearing last Wednesday were Kolibas’ previous offenses in Florida. Kolibas is listed on Florida’s sex offender registry for four cases of providing and attempting to provide obscene material to a minor in 1995. According to Florida court documents, Kolibas had adjudication of guilt withheld in the cases.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan likened the Florida sentences to a deferred sentence in Vermont. Donovan said he’s been in contact with Florida authorities on the particulars of the case. He revealed after the hearing that it is believed Kolibas refused to register as a sex offender in Florida, even though his name is on the list.

Donovan said it’s up to prosecutors to figure out why Kolibas did not register and why authorities weren’t notified of his previous offenses when he moved to Vermont.

Donovan said this week he’s also been in contact with New Jersey authorities to find out why he didn’t register as a sex offender in that state. Kolibas moved from Florida to New Jersey before moving to Vermont.

Donovan also said after the hearing that Kolibas may face additional charges related to his failure to register as a sex offender, although the investigation is ongoing.

During the July 1 hearing, Kolibas’ public defender, Margaret Jansch, tried to argue that Kolibas was not a flight risk and that his trip to Maine occurred before any warrants or charges were filed.

“He was free to travel and did so,” Jansch said.

Kolibas fled to Maine on May 31, but was taken into custody on June 1 by a Maine police officer. According to the Maine officer’s affidavit, Kolibas contacted authorities because he was having “suicidal thoughts” and was “running from his troubles.” The officer who picked up Kolibas to bring him to a local hospital ran a search and found the Chittenden County arrest warrant.

After his arrest, Kolibas told officers “I probably wouldn’t have made it to the border anyway,” according to the affidavit. Kolibas was apprehended in Topsfield, Maine, less than 10 miles from the Canadian border.

Jansch also asked the judge to dismiss the charges of unlawful restraint and delivering a drug to a minor, stating there was no evidence to support those charges.

Zimmerman disagreed, citing the affidavits and court testimony from the alleged victim’s mother and Debra Miranowicz, an investigator with the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations.

According to an affidavit, Kolibas gave the alleged victim and his daughter smoothie drinks after they returned home from a school dance. Both girls fell asleep in the same bed while watching a movie. The alleged victim told police she awoke to find Kolibas allegedly fondling her.

The alleged victim’s mother testified on July 1 that her daughter appeared “drugged” during the early morning hours of May 30. The mother went to pick her daughter up at the Kolibas home after the girl called for a ride.

“She was clearly not herself,” the mother said. “She seemed very dizzy.”

On the afternoon of the alleged assault, the teen provided a urine sample to police, which tested positive for a sedative. During a search of the Kolibas home on May 30, police discovered several prescription drug medications that included the sedative.

Donovan reiterated after the hearing that prosecutors and investigators would leave “no stone unturned” in the case. Police seized cameras and computers from the Kolibas home during their investigation. Donovan said the contents of those devices are still being reviewed, and it may be a while before results from that investigation are released.

He said investigators were looking at the possibility of other victims, but declined to say if any had been discovered.

“This is probably a parent’s worst nightmare,” Donovan said.