Kolibas trial delayed (1/7/10)

Jan. 7, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The trial for a Williston man charged with drugging and molesting a 13-year-old girl has again been postponed.

Robert Kolibas, 50, was set to go on trial in mid-February. But at a status conference on Tuesday morning in Vermont District Court in Burlington, the date was pushed back to March.

Prosecutors had originally hoped to get a trial under way this month. Deputy State’s Attorney Susan Hardin said Kolibas’ public defenders have been slow to prepare depositions, as well as a list of potential witnesses, for trial. Public Defender Margaret Jansch called the slow-moving process a result of poor communication between her office and state’s attorneys.

“The discovery processes between our offices has been a problem for a long time,” Jansch told Judge Michael Kupersmith.

Hardin responded by saying that all files have been open and available throughout the process.

Scheduling conflicts with Kolibas’ public defenders and Judge Kupersmith played into the decision to delay the trial.

Kolibas faces five charges related to the case: lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, second degree unlawful restraint, giving a drug to a minor and two counts of aggravated assault by administering a drug. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Kolibas is accused of drugging his daughter and her friend, then 13 years old, by giving them sedative-laced smoothie drinks during a sleepover at his home in May. The daughter’s friend alleges Kolibas fondled her while she was drugged. A urine test showed evidence of sedatives in the alleged victim’s system.

Last month, prosecutors released information showing they believe Kolibas drugged seven other girls beginning in the summer of 2008. Investigators also discovered more than 16,000 images of child erotica on a computer seized from Kolibas’ home during the May investigation. While no charges have been filed in conjunction with the latest revelations, prosecutors hope they will be admissible in trial as “prior bad acts.”

Jansch indicated to Kupersmith that she will file a motion to dismiss some of the charges. She did not indicate which charges the defense planned to challenge. A motion hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20.