Ludlow resident facing potential life sentence following alleged sexual assault against female acquaintance
Ordered held for lack of $40,000 bail on Friday
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A Ludlow man is facing potential penalties ranging from a maximum of five years to life behind bars after he pleaded innocent to five separate felony counts stemming from an alleged series of assaults on Thursday.
A neighbor of John Burzenski's told Ludlow Police that she had been walking along the opposite side of the street late Thursday afternoon when Burzenski allegedly began "screaming at her about ignoring him" and then crossed the street to grab her by the arm before pulling her clear over into the front hallway of his residence where she said he slammed her head violently against the wall before groping her sexually until finally she broke free and got back out the front door of his home.
At that point, the woman told police, Burzenski allegedly continued to make sexual comments and menaced her by taking an axe and "smashing" it repeatedly into a snowmobile helmet on the ground before violently grabbing her arm and allegedly squeezing it in what was described as a deliberate effort to leave a visible bruise on her.
The putative victim told Ludlow police officers that Burzenski made several disturbing sexual comments to her including comments about having "zip-ties" in his car nearby.
On Friday afternoon Burzenski, 54, was brought into a courtroom in White River Junction where he entered innocent pleas to felony counts of kidnapping with bodily injury, kidnapping with sexual assault, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and lewd & lascivious conduct.
During the hearing Burzenski's defense attorney, Mike Shane, told Judge Elizabeth Mann that Burzenski is an out-of-work carpenter who had been living in New York until a few months ago when he moved to Ludlow because he has family in the area. Attorney Shane also told the judge that Burzenski has a "completely different recollection" of how the events allegedly unfolded on Thursday afternoon.
After hearing from a mental health screener who met with Burzenski in a holding cell at the court and said that he did not appear to be suffering from any obvious mental illness, Judge Mann turned down the state's request to hold him without bail and instead said that if Burzenski can post $40,000 bail he will be allowed to return to his residence pending his trial provided he maintains a strict 24/7 curfew while he is there.
Asked by Judge Mann if he had any questions about the proceedings Friday, Burzenski replied, "I'm in shock, Your Honor. I don't have any questions. It doesn't sound like I'm going to be getting out of here any time soon."
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