A local man is facing six months of home confinement after pleading guilty Tuesday to having sexual contact with three girls, 12, 13 and 14, during three separate incidents, in 2018.
Joseph S. Lizotte, 19, of Rutland, was charged in 2018 with sexual assault on a person younger than 18 for an incident involving a 13-year-old girl; sexual assault on a person younger than 18 for an incident involving a 14-year-old girl; and a felony count of aggravated assault on a person younger than 13 and a felony count of obstruction of justice for an incident involving a 12-year-old girl.
On Tuesday, Lizotte entered a plea agreement with the state. Under the agreement, he would be sentenced to three to five years in prison for the latter set of charges with all of that time expected to be suspended and he would spend six months on home confinement.
The charge was amended from aggravated assault to sexual assault on a minor before Lizotte pleaded guilty.
For the first two sets of charges, Lizotte’s sentencing would be deferred. There is no agreement between Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy and Mark Furlan, one of two attorneys representing Lizotte, on the length of time the sentencing would be deferred.
On Tuesday, Judge David Fenster ordered staff at the Vermont Department of Corrections to complete a pre-sentence investigation of Lizotte, a psycho-sexual report and a report on whether Lizotte had access to a home that would be suitable as a place to serve a sentence of home confinement.
Before Lizotte was sentenced in Rutland criminal court, Fenster asked Kennedy if any of the girls involved in the incidents had come to the courthouse on Tuesday.
Kennedy said one of the girls was there, but didn’t want to come into the courtroom. Kennedy said a staff member from her office had spoken to the other two girls, but they weren’t in the building, and she said she didn’t expect them to speak before Lizotte was sentenced.
According to Kennedy, one of the girls wanted more punishment involved in the plea agreement, but she said all three girls preferred the agreement that was presented to Fenster over going to trial.
Kennedy explained the basis of the charges during the Tuesday hearing.
Pertaining to the charges for which Lizotte is expected to spend time on home confinement, Kennedy said police received a report in March 2018 about a 12-year-old girl who reported being sexually assaulted by Lizotte.
The 12-year-old told medical personnel who examined her that she had non-consensual sexual contact, Kennedy said.
Police learned as they investigated the allegation that Lizotte had asked a 15-year-old girl who was a witness to the sexual assault to “lie for him.”
Kennedy said police had gotten different accounts about whether the sexual contact was consensual, but said the incident would have been a crime whether or not it was consensual.
One of the two other incidents happened sometime in January 2018 while the final incident happened sometime between February and April 2018.
Kennedy said the basis for both of those incidents was that Lizotte admitted them to police when law-enforcement investigated.
All three of the incidents happened in Rutland.
Kennedy, Furlan and T. Lamar Enzor, Lizotte’s other attorney, are expected to offer one set of special conditions for Lizotte before Lizotte is sentenced. Furlan said he might challenge a condition restricting Lizotte’s computer use because there was no allegation that the incidents were based on computer contact or material viewed on a computer.
Fenster said he would schedule a sentencing hearing of one hour, in part, to allow enough time for the girls involved to offer victim impact statements.