Chester teen accused of attempt at witness tampering in sexual assault cases
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A Chester teen who has spent over a year awaiting trial on allegations that he sexually assaulted two high school classmates at gatherings where the girls said they were intoxicated is now facing an additional charge alleging that he reached out to one of them from jail in an attempt at witness tampering.
Ryan Stocker, 19, pleaded innocent on Monday afternoon to a felony count of obstruction of justice and to an accompanying misdemeanor count alleging that he violated one of the court-ordered conditions of his pre-trial release by having his best friend contact one of his putative victims in an effort to get her to change her story.
Prosecutors asked Judge Timothy Tomasi to revoke the $100,000 bail that Stocker’s family had already posted on his behalf but the judge declined to do so, noting that although the allegations just came to the attention of police this summer, they supposedly occurred nearly a year ago.
Ludlow Police Detective Sgt. Richard King wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that in July of this year he was made aware of a handwritten copy of a message that had been sent over SnapChat in which a Proctorsville man who described himself to police as Stocker’s best friend allegedly asked one of the girls whom Stocker is accused of assaulting if she would consider not pressing charges.
Stocker has appeared in court a couple of times over the past year following his initial arraignment where he pleaded innocent to a pair of sexual assault charges that carry a mandatory minimum 3-year prison term and the potential of up to life behind bars, if he were to be convicted.
During those subsequent hearings the terms of Stocker’s release have been relaxed ever so slightly in order to allow him to work on construction sites with his father so he could continue to earn money for college and his legal defense efforts; however, in each of those cases a strict “no contact” condition with his alleged victims and other witnesses in his cases has always been included.
Sgt. King wrote that during the months of September and November last fall, while Stocker was still in jail as his family worked to secure his large bail, Stocker had “numerous phone conversations” that were routinely recorded by the jail in which he can allegedly be heard urging his grandmother Lisa Sousy and friends, including his best friend Justin Diak, to contact one of the girls and “get her to drop the charges.”
Sgt. King wrote that it was his understanding that Diak relayed a SnapChat conversation with the girl to Sousy who in turn provided a handwritten transcript of what it purportedly said to her grandson’s legal defense team.
In the affidavit, Diak is quoted as beginning a message to the girl by saying “Okay so this stays between us 100% but it’s very important. Ryan is terribly depressed right now. It’s getting really bad….are you going to pursue anything with your case? If you are then like I can’t stop you and I understand but if you aren’t please please go talk to his lawyer. HIs family doesn’t want to press anything or pursue anything. They really just want Ryan home…”
In the written copy of the SnapChat conversation, which was dated November 8, 2017, the teen girl purportedly began her reply with, “Any feelings on the matter are so complicated right now. I try to push it out of my mind whenever I think about it cause I’m so torn about Ryan. What he did to me was so long ago and I truly believe he changed into a better person shortly after and that’s when I decided to become friends with him again. I never wanted to pursue charges against him, but legally I wasn’t allowed to withhold information since the story was already reported to them multiple times so I was basically forced to cooperate.”
The transcript continued, “I still don’t want to be involved, but if what he’s being accused of really did happen then I don’t want to help him get away with it either. I just would never want to accuse (the other girl) or any of them of lying because I’ve been in their position, but I do understand how the stories can be hard to believe. They haven’t contacted me since they lied to my face about how involved I would be in the case and then they went and arrested him. But as of now I’m not planning on making any effort to be involved. I think if anything, especially after him being locked up for this long, he needs to get help. I just feel so conflicted about it though cause I wanna feel bad to a certain point but then he posted stories like calling (the other girl) a (expletive) and stuff so it’s hard to sympathize with him when that’s how he acts."
At the conclusion of Monday afternoon’s hearing Judge Tomasi re-released Stocker on his existing bail and conditions, noting “This occurred a year ago and, paradoxically, this happened when he was incarcerated,” and, the judge noted, there have been no reports of any incidents of witness contact in the intervening year.
Turning directly to Stocker the judge continued, “I can tell you that you are on the edge and if there is any hint of contact with these folks going forward it is going to be decisive.”
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