Man, 78, gets three years for sexually assaulting vulnerable woman
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | July 19,2013
Patrick McArdle/Staff photo
Warren Breed, 78, of Bennington, was sentenced in Bennington criminal court to serve three years to life on Thursday. Breed was found guilty by a jury in January of two felony crimes, sexual assault and sexual assault on a vulnerable adult.
BENNINGTON — A Bennington man was sentenced to serve three years to life Thursday after being found guilty by a jury in January of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman in 2007, a sentence which his lawyer said would effectively be a “death sentence” because of the man’s age and health.
Warren A. Breed, 78, of Bennington, was convicted by a jury in January in Bennington criminal court of one felony count each of sexual assault with no consent and sexual assault on a vulnerable adult.
Bennington County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville, who prosecuted the case, said she believed Breed was the first person to be convicted using Vermont’s law specifying the sexual assault of a vulnerable adult as a particular crime.
“I hope that this sends a message that our community will not tolerate victimization of adults with disabilities,” she said after the sentencing.
Jeff Rubin, who represented Breed, said he didn’t want to comment on the sentencing except to say it was a “difficult case” for everyone involved.
Police first began to investigate the accusations against Breed in 2007 when they were reported by a woman who was a neighbor of Breed’s at the time. A short time later, police were told the woman no longer wanted to pursue the case but she came forward again in 2012.
The woman told police that Breed had come to her apartment and asked her to help him with something in his apartment. Once she was inside, Breed sexually assaulted her, she told police.
The woman said she told Breed no at least three times but didn’t try to escape because she was afraid of him.
After his conviction in January, Breed took part in a pre-sentence investigation and a psycho-sexual evaluation before the sentencing hearing Thursday.
Rubin argued that because of Breed’s age, health and mental condition, his client should be given a probationary sentence. Rubin presented evidence which indicated that testing showed that Breed bordered on the cusp of “mild mental retardation.”
He also asked Warren Breed Jr., Breed’s son, to testify about Breed’s health. Breed Jr. said his father had recently received a pacemaker and suffered from vision problems, diabetes and angina.
“His health has been going downhill,” he said.
Rubin said he believed Breed could get treatment in the community and said “any incarcerative sentence is likely to be a death sentence for Mr. Breed.”
Rainville asked for a sentence of seven years to life. She said none of the cases she prosecuted in which a jury found a defendant guilty of sexual assault had resulted in anything less than a five-year sentence and said she believed the additional two years would be appropriate because the victim was developmentally disabled.
She said Breed had “helped himself” to the woman, in part because of her size. The woman is under 5 feet tall. Rainville also said that during his interviews for the reports used in the sentencing, Breed still did not accept responsibility for the sexual assaults.
Given a chance to speak to the court, Breed said he was “sorry for how it happened.”
“I’m awful sorry for what I did,” he said.
Breed was allowed to remain free after his conviction but his sentence began immediately after the hearing Thursday.