A Wallingford man is accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl who worked on his farm.
Arthur Seward, 55, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Rutland Criminal Court to five felony charges: Repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child, two counts of sexual assault on a victim under 16, and two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
Deputy State’s Attorney Travis Weaver asked that Seward be held without bail.
Seward’s attorney, public defender Christopher Davis, said his client has strong ties to the community, has a limited criminal record of one misdemeanor conviction for reckless endangerment, and lives in a fairly isolated area.
Judge Samuel Hoar ordered Seward held without bail pending a bail hearing to be scheduled as soon as possible.
According to an affidavit filed by Rutland Police Detective Ryan Ashe, on March 26 an adult woman came to the Rutland City Police Station and reported that in 2013, when she was 14, Seward began having a sexual relationship with her. She said Seward was a family friend, and she was interested in the 4-H program, and so went to stay on his farm to help out and be involved in 4-H programs.
The woman told police that the first time something happened between her and Seward was when she was staying over at his house. She got up to get a drink of water and met Seward, who bumped into her and began “grinding” against her the way some people do when they dance. She said she believed this wasn’t accidental, though Seward apologized and said he thought she was someone else.
These “grinding” incidents happened several more times, the woman said. Seward told her he’d lose custody of his children if anyone found out, and he also made sexual comments to her during the day while working on the farm.
The woman said Seward was always nice to her, which she responded to because she didn’t get much attention at home. He would buy her things, pay for 4-H-related things, and would let her do things on the farm he didn’t let others do.
She told police their physical contact got more involved over time, and while she felt it was wrong, she was willing. She said she had the feeling Seward knew it was wrong, too, and was worried his family members might find them together.
She detailed two occasions where she and Seward had sex at his house, but she believed they had intercourse many times. She said they would often have sexual contact, but not sex.
By 2017, their sexual relationship had ceased, though they would occasionally speak. The woman no longer worked on his farm by then. In May 2018, according to the woman, Seward tried to contact her. She tried to call him back, but wasn’t successful.
The woman told police that during the beginning of the relationship between her and Seward, she believes several people in their social circle suspected something was going on, as some of them had asked either her or Seward if there was anything between them.
She said she went to the farm in March to speak with Seward, to reiterate that their relationship was over. There, the two discussed their relationship.
Ashe wrote that he then got a warrant to monitor a phone call police arranged between the woman and Seward. The call took place Monday. In it, Seward discusses having sex with the woman and indicated he knew she was underage at the time.
According to the affidavit, on Wednesday, Ashe and Rutland Town Police Chief Ed Dumas, who along with Ashe is assigned the Rutland Unit for Special Investigations, went to Seward’s home. They found him at the East Wallingford Fire Department working on a truck. The three returned to the Rutland Police Department where Seward was interviewed.
Ashe said Seward initially denied knowing the woman, but then acknowledged a woman going by a certain nickname did work on his farm for a time. He denied having any sexual contact with her, until he was told about the monitored phone call. He then said she’d performed oral sex on him, but was 16 when that happened. He denied ever having sexual intercourse with her.