A Sudbury man was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison on Tuesday after a Rutland criminal court jury found him guilty in March 2018 of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
James Bartshe, 50, of Sudbury, has about 3½-year credit from the time he has spent in jail since his November 2015 arrest.
Bartshe’s conviction will mean he must register as a sex offender.
At the time of Bartshe’s arrest, a boy, who was 15 at the time, told police that Bartshe had been sexually abusing him regularly since the boy was in fourth grade. On Sept. 4, 2015, the boy told police the last instance of sexual abuse had been “last night.”
Around the time of his arrest, Bartshe denied the allegations, according to a police affidavit filed in the case.
A jury found Bartshe guilty after deliberating for more than five hours.
On Monday, the boy. who is now 18, told Judge Michael Kupersmith about how Bartshe’s actions had affected him.
“I wanted to start with, I don’t have anything written down because of how much trauma I went through that it was unbearable to even think about writing it down,” he said.
The boy said he had struggled with substance abuse and suicide attempts and found completing school difficult. However, he told Kupersmith he expects to graduate this year and has plans for a career he wants to pursue after high school.
“It’s been hard to live with. He definitely damaged me mentally, but in my heart, I’m still fighting to become a better person in spite of him, and I’m still pushing forward, trying to be the best person that I could be with the amount of trauma that I’ve gone through,” he said.
In a statement, Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy said the boy “spoke bravely in court (Tuesday) about how this crime has affected him and his plan to overcome the (Bartshe’s) abuse.”
During the sentencing hearing, Kennedy asked Kupersmith to sentence Bartshe to 12 to 15 years, with the time suspended except 12 years to serve.
Kennedy said Bartshe had a custodial role over the boy, who was “particularly vulnerable.”
She thanked Trooper Walter Ribeiro who responded in 2015 to a report of a boy with a knife. Kennedy said Ribeiro took the time to build rapport with the boy so he could figure out what was really troubling him.
“How easy it could have been for (Bartshe) to paint (the boy) as a troubled child whom he sheltered, a plan (Bartshe) attempted but failed,” Kennedy said.
“For (the boy,) this crime will be with him forever. This is not to say he can’t and won’t overcome its effects. He will. That’s clear. But he will do so despite (Bartshe’s) actions. For the harm this defendant caused this boy, now a man, the state believes harsh punishment is appropriate,” Kennedy said.
Attorney Zachery Weight, who represented Bartshe, asked Kupersmith to consider one of two sentences, both for two to five years. In one, Bartshe would serve three years with the rest served on probation or a two to five sentence to serve.
“Here, given that Mr. Bartshe has no prior record, that he lived, essentially 47 years as a lawful, complete member of society … that there are no other allegations of anything of a sexual nature or any kind of criminal nature and the fact that even if he was released today he would be rebuilding, essentially, his life from the bottom up, it’s our position that punishment, even though it should be a part of (the sentence) should not be weighed heavily on Mr. Bartshe,” Weight said.
Kupersmith asked Bartshe if he wanted to address the court, but Bartshe declined.
“Mr. Weight, your remarks would carry a great deal more weight if it were not this kind of offense. … I think I can give a lot of leeway in most cases except when a defendant hurts somebody seriously,” he said before delivering the sentence.
Weight declined to comment after the sentencing.
Kennedy said by email the sentencing Tuesday made it a “significant day.”
“The court appropriately sentenced a man who sexually offended against a child … The state believes this sentence is just and speaks to the potential irreparable harm that sexually molesting a child can do,” Kennedy said.
In her email, Kennedy also pointed out that Vermonters who suspect a child is being molested, can contact the Vermont Department for Children and Families at 800 649-5285. Questions can be directed to the Rutland County Child First Advocacy Center at 747-0200.