Judge refuses to hold suspect in sex slave case without bail
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | April 12,2013
ERIC FRANCIS PHOTO
Brett Bartolotta of Cavendish was in court Monday for a hearing on whether he should remain free while he faces charges that he sexually assaulted a teenage boy from Ludlow.
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A judge has ruled that a Cavendish man, charged in a child sex slave case, can remain free on $50,000 bail.
Windsor Superior Court Judge Robert Gerety denied a motion from Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen to have Brett Bartolotta, 42, held without bail. Kainen said his office had been seeking to have Bartolotta held, saying he posed a threat to the safety of the community.
Bartolotta, a former West Haven, Conn., volunteer firefighter, was one of two men charged with the sexual assault of the boy, who was 12 when the assaults started. Bartolotta’s co-defendant, Frank Meyer, 39, of West Haven, Conn., killed himself last month in Newfane. Meyer died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and his body was found in a tent where he had burned charcoal, according to his death certificate. Meyer had been suspended from his 911 dispatcher job in Connecticut prior to his death.
Bartolotta and Meyer came to Vermont on vacation, and Bartolotta eventually moved to Vermont full time.
“There is no information suggesting that defendant has violated the existing conditions of release in any way or that public safety is threatened in a manner, or to a degree, not previously understood,” wrote Gerety, in a decision dated Tuesday. “The defendant has substantial contacts with the community and no record of having failed to appear at court hearings in the past.”
Kainen said his office had originally tried to have Bartolotta held under the argument that he posed a risk of flight from prosecution, but the judge rejected that argument at his arraignment, saying he owned property in Vermont and didn’t have a criminal record prior to his arrest in late February.
He said his office then argued that bail should be withheld under a different bail statute, but were again rejected.
According to court records, Bartolotta started the sexual assault of the boy with promises of money and gifts, and later brought Meyer into the sex abuse scheme. The alleged victim told investigators that Bartolotta had sexually assaulted him about 800 times during the 12 years, and Meyer about half that.
Both Bartolotta and Meyer had been released on bail shortly after their Feb. 28 arraignment.
Kainen said Meyer’s death could have an effect on the prosecution of Bartolotta.
“It’s a bit of a wrinkle in the case. He made some admissions that would have been helpful” in the prosecution of Bartolotta, said Kainen, who became state’s attorney about three weeks ago after the resignation of longtime Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand, who resigned to work for the Shumlin administration. Kainen was a deputy state’s attorney in Orange County.
According to court records, the alleged victim, who is now 25, wore a wire when he met with Meyer at a Ludlow restaurant a week before he and Bartolotta were arrested, and that Meyer appeared to confirm many of the allegations made by the victim.
Kainen said he was researching how to use Meyer’s statements in the case against Bartolotta.
“The Court made the right decision in denying the State’s motion to hold Mr. Bartolotta without bail. Mr. Bartolotta has no criminal record whatsoever, is not a danger to himself or the public, and is not a flight risk. He has complied with all court orders since his arraignment, and he has posted a large amount of bail (which would be forfeited if the Court had granted the State’s motion). Under these circumstances it was entirely appropriate for the Court to continue the existing bail conditions,” said Cabot Teachout, Bartolotta’s attorney. susan.smallheer