Molestation suspect to undergo psych evaluation (2/4/10)

Kolibas moved to new correctional facility

Feb. 4, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A Williston man accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl last year will undergo a competency evaluation, a judge ruled this week.

Lawyers for Robert Kolibas, 51, asked Judge Michael Kupersmith for the evaluation after Kolibas injured himself last week. Kolibas’ public defender, Margaret Jansch, said Kolibas wounded himself on the morning of Jan. 28. He was treated at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Kolibas is charged with four felony charges, including lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, giving a drug to a minor and two counts of aggravated assault by administering a drug. Prosecutors allege that Kolibas drugged his daughter and her friend before molesting the friend during a sleepover at his home in May 2009.

Due to his hospitalization, Kolibas missed two arraignments for another charge of second-degree unlawful restraint. Kupersmith previously tossed out one count of unlawful restraint, saying the charge didn’t make sense based on the legal definition of the crime. Prosecutors say Kolibas restrained the then 13-year-old girl by holding her legs during the alleged molestation to avoid waking his daughter, who was sleeping in the same bed.

The prosecution did not release any details on the new unlawful restraint charge since the arraignment has yet to occur. State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan would not say if the charge relates to the original case or if it involves a different alleged victim. Prosecutors believe Kolibas drugged at least seven girls with sedatives at different sleepover parties before the alleged May incident. Charges have not been filed in connection with those allegations, but the prosecution hopes to bring them up in trial as “previous bad acts.”

Jansch said Kolibas has been moved from the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington to the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. A hospital for inmates is located in Springfield. Jansch said she did not know the extent of Kolibas’ injuries, or if he was under suicide watch at the prison. The Springfield facility’s superintendent, Anita Carbonell, did not return calls from the Observer by press deadline.

Jansch said she was unsure when Kolibas would undergo the competency evaluation. Defendants receive a psychological evaluation to discover whether they are mentally competent to stand trial. Depending on the results, Kolibas’ lawyers could file a motion arguing he is unfit for trial.

This is not the first time Kolibas has attempted to harm himself or threatened to do so. After fleeing Vermont for Maine before his arrest in June 2009, Kolibas told Maine authorities he wanted to commit suicide. According to court documents, Kolibas also attempted suicide in 2008.

As for the arraignment on the unlawful restraint charge, Jansch said she hoped the judge would delay the proceeding until Kolibas completed his competency evaluation. She said Kupersmith made a suggestion that the arraignment could occur at Vermont District Court in Windsor County, which is closer to the Southern State Correctional Facility.

Donovan did not know if the recent developments would delay Kolibas’ trial, scheduled to begin next month.

“We’re planning on a trial for March 23,” Donovan said.