WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A church pipe organ builder has been charged with a child molesting offense involving a four-year-old girl as the result of an investigation that began 18-months ago
Robert Waters, 68, of Hartford Village pleaded innocent on Thursday afternoon to a single felony count of aggravated sexual assault upon a victim under the age of 13, a charge which despite his lack of a criminal record would carry a mandatory minimum jail term of ten years and a potential maximum sentence of up to life in prison if he were to be convicted.
Waters’ defense attorney Robert Lees told the court that Waters has been aware of the investigation for over a year and has not interfered with it. Lees also noted that Waters, who has a master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan, has lived in Hartford for over 30 years and is an active member of several local churches, a Rotary Club, and belongs to an Upper Valley choral group.
Although prosecutors asked Judge Timothy Tomasi to hold Waters without bail and the judge himself said the allegations would amount to “a very extreme crime” if true, Judge Tomasi agreed to allow Waters to return home pending his eventual trial under strict 24-hour-a-day curfew conditions with only a few limited exceptions allowing him out a couple of times each week to briefly buy groceries.
Hartford Police Detective Kristinnah Adams wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that the young girl, who no longer lives in Vermont, first made a report about Waters’ alleged inappropriate behavior early last year.
A series of follow-up “forensic interviews” with the girl led investigators to file the charge and arrest Waters this week.
Robert Waters, 68, of Hartford Village faces a mandatory 10-year-minimum sentence if he were to be convicted
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