Second man charged in Williston sexual assault case

Pair allegedly abused young girl

By Ben Moger-Williams
Observer staff

Detectives from the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations arrested a Hinesburg man Friday in connection with the sexual abuse of a 10-year-old Williston girl who was allegedly molested and assaulted over a two- to three-year period.

Derek Kimball, 33, was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, according to court records. Kimball, a Hinesburg resident, is being held at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Center in South Burlington. His bail was set at $25,000.

An acquaintance of Kimball’s, 34-year-old Williston resident Mark Hulett, was arraigned on the same charges in May, but he was released in June on a $50,000 bond. Hulett is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of this month.

Both men are accused of having sexual contact with the girl, whose mother was a high school friend of Hulett’s. In a sworn affidavit, Detective Sgt. Bruce Bovat , the director of CUSI, said that he and CUSI Detective John Dunn approached Kimball at his place of work, Chittenden County Solid Waste District, in South Burlington on Friday. They interviewed Kimball in their car, where Kimball admitted to having had sex with the girl once, and varying degrees of sexual contact on different occasions, Bovat said in the affidavit.

According to Bovat, the girl told her cousin that Kimball threatened to kill her and her family if she ever told anyone about his sexually assaulting her. The girl also told her cousin that Kimball had once used handcuffs while touching her, the records say.

Bovat said that Kimball admitted to the detectives that he knew he had done something wrong with the girl. Bovat asked what Kimball would say to the girl if she were there. The records show that Kimball responded, “I would apologize for what I’ve done and hope that you could get your life back on track and be able to continue on.”

Bovat said CUSI had to wait until the opportune moment to arrest Kimball.

“With the information we had, it was a timing issue,” Bovat said. “It was the right time to approach (Kimball).”

Other developments

Despite an objection by the state prosecutor, Hulett was released from jail in June into the custody of his parents. Hulett changed his original plea of innocent to a guilty plea in August, according to court documents. Hulett and the state have not reached any agreement or plea deal, according to the prosecutor in the case, Deputy State’s Attorney Nicole Andreson, so it is unclear what Hulett’s sentence will be.

Hulett’s sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place on Oct. 31. If the sentence imposed is longer than three months, Hulett might change his plea at the hearing. Hulett and his attorney, Mark Kaplan, filed a notice with the court Aug. 20, which states “the Defendant shall have the right to withdraw his plea of guilty if his sentence to serve is greater than 90 days.”

According to court records, Hulett’s sentence could be as short as 30 days, with a lengthy probation. In a memorandum filed with Vermont District Court in Burlington, Andreson wrote that, “given the nature and frequency of the assaults, as well as the age of the victim,” the state is recommending a sentence of 8-20 years in jail.

“It will certainly be a contested sentence, I can say that,” Andreson said in a phone interview. Kaplan did not return multiple phone calls to his office to comment for this story.

Court documents show that Hulett, a former Williston firefighter, admitted to having repeated sexual contact with the girl beginning when she was 8 years old.

The girl’s parents told police that they sometimes found Hulett and their daughter sleeping in the same bed at the family’s home, but they did not stop the practice, records indicate. Hulett also babysat for the girl, and often picked her up from school. The documents say Hulett spent about two nights a week at the girl’s home in Williston.

While the parents might have exercised poor judgment regarding their daughter’s relationship with Hulett, Andreson said they have not been charged with any crime.

The parents reported the alleged abuse to law enforcement officials in May. The girl had told her cousin about having sexual encounters with Hulett at the same time she talked about being assaulted by Kimball. The cousin then told another relative, who alerted the parents, according to the records.