St. George man faces sexual assault charges (10/22/09)

Oct. 22, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A St. George man stands accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a girl for five years beginning in 2000.

Richard A. Clark, 58, has been charged with two counts of repeated aggravated sexual assault. The alleged victim said Clark assaulted her from when she was 6 years old until she was 11. The abuse allegedly took place in St. George and Vergennes, according to the girl, who is now 17.

Clark pleaded not guilty to the charges in Vermont District Court on Friday. If convicted, the maximum sentence is life in prison.

Judge Matthew Katz ordered Clark held without bail. Clark lives with his fiancée, who runs a daycare facility out of her house in St. George. He is being held at the Chittenden County Correctional Center in South Burlington.

An investigation against Clark began in May after the alleged victim told a teacher in Vergennes that she had been abused when Clark was her mother’s live-in boyfriend. The girl lived with Clark in Vergennes and moved with Clark and her family to St. George when she was 6, according to a police affidavit.

The teacher subsequently informed authorities with the Department for Children and Families. The department then contacted Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, which handles abuse cases in the county. According to the affidavit written by CUSI Detective Gregg Jager, the girl said the abuse occurred “too many times to count.”

The girl told investigators the abuse took place when her mother and brother were at work or school and she was left home alone with Clark. She said she was often awoken early in the morning by Clark and abused.

According to the affidavit, Clark typically showed up for work at 8 a.m. at the Saputo cheese factory in Hinesburg up until the building burned down last year.

The girl told police the abuse stopped when Clark’s relationship with her mother ended around the time she turned 11. The girl told police she’d informed her mother and sister about the abuse.

The sister, however, told police she had never heard of any abuse allegations from her sister.

Interviewed by investigators in May, Clark said nothing happened between the girl and him. According to the affidavit, Clark wondered why allegations were surfacing now.

“I’m not going to sit here and own up to something I didn’t do,” Clark told police, according to the affidavit.

According to court records, Clark has no previous convictions for sexual assault.

Clark was represented by public defender Dan Maguire during Friday’s proceedings. It’s unclear whether Clark is intending to retain Maguire as his attorney. Maguire could not be reached prior to press deadline.

Clark is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 10 for a status conference.