Student Accused of Sexual Assault Pleads Not Guilty
Police say the alleged incident happened in Poland Res. Hall
A Lyndon junior accused of sexually assaulting another 19-year-old female student in a residence hall last year has pleaded not guilty. Several students have reported that he has not been seen on campus for at least two weeks.
Taylor T. Burke, 20, of 2116 Chapel Road in Bennington, Vermont, stood in front of a judge at Caledonia Superior Court on Monday where he pleaded not guilty to one felony count of sexual assault, no consent. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured appearance bond and ordered to stay at least 300 feet away from the alleged victim and three witnesses. If convicted, Burke faces a sentence of three years to life behind bars.
Attempts to reach Burke were unsuccessful.
According to an affidavit filed by Vermont State Police Detective Trooper Russell Finn, on March 27, 2011, an employee of the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center called state police to report that a female had been sexually assaulted at Lyndon State College. The alleged victim then gave a statement to police regarding the alleged March 26, 2011 incident, claiming she had been sexually assaulted.
The affidavit stated that both the alleged victim and Burke admitted to engaging in consensual sex in a room on the first floor of the Poland residence hall after hours of drinking at an off-campus party. Police said that party occurred at a location above Phat Kats Tavern, located at 33 Depot Street in Lyndonville.
While at the party, Burke admitted to drinking approximately 12-14 beers. The alleged victim said she had consumed about ten Bud Light beers and told police that she knew Burke from attending school, but had not interacted with him at the party or had any prior relationship with him. She said she returned to her dorm room with both her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend after the party, but the two had "passed out" after attending the party.
The affidavit said that Burke arrived at the alleged victim's room around 2 a.m., where he later "pulled the blankets over their head" and they engaged in consensual sex. The alleged victim stated they both performed oral sex on each other as well. When Burke allegedly pulled her legs towards his chest during intercourse, the alleged victim stated that she became uncomfortable and told Burke to stop. The affidavit said Burke first ignored her, but then said "You like it." The document said that the alleged victim continued to say that Burke refused to stop, even after she tried other verbal methods including calling out to other people present in the room, stating she had to work in the morning and she was tired. She also said she tried to put her hands up in a defensive manner, trying to squirm away. Burke allegedly said "he was almost done" and that is when the alleged victim "gave up her attempts to stop and turned her head," the affidavit said. She told police that she was too scared to scream for help.
According to the affidavit, she also stated that Burke stopped having sex with her fifteen minutes after she told him to stop. When he stopped, she said that she put her clothes on and ran to another student's room.
When the interviewing officer asked if it was possible that she was not remembering the sexual assault accurately because she had consumed alcohol prior to the incident, the alleged victim replied, "I know what happened." She also stated that she was upset because "she had to accept that she had been sexually assaulted by Burke and she didn't want this to happen to another girl."
In an interview with police, Burke denied attending the party on March 25, but said he had instead been there the previous night. He also stated he was not certain on the date, as he did not remember being there. Burke claimed he had known the victim since last year, but agreed they had never had a relationship.
The affidavit stated that Burke said he returned to his dorm after the party. After Burke said that, the trooper interviewing him noted he had beads of sweat on his forehead. Burke said he was "ready to leave" and that he was "busted for alcohol in the past" and he did not like answering questions about parties. The interviewing officer told him he was not interested in asking him questions about previous parties.
According to the document, Public Safety Director George Hacking said that he spoke in person with Burke regarding the incident. Hacking reportedly stated that Burke had admitted to ending up in the alleged victim's dorm room after the party, where the two had consensual sex. Hacking said that Burke told him he later spent the night in the alleged victim's room. Burke told Hacking that he never heard the girl say "no" or tell him to stop.
According to the affidavit, Burke also told a friend that "he didn't remember anything after going to Cumby's [Cumberland Farms]", although when questioned by the friend about the sexual assault allegation, he allegedly said that the victim "never said no."
Burke said he was more intoxicated than the alleged victim, and that he may have either not heard her or "blacked out" during the incident.
"Blacked out" is a term that people use to describe a high level of intoxication that resulted in memory loss.
The affidavit said Burke said he did not remember where the alleged victim's hands were during sex. Burke also said she never raised her voice during sex to tell him to stop, nor did she cry or make excuses as to why they should stop having sex. Burke also denied remembering saying anything about "liking it."
As a result of the allegations, Burke was ordered to give a DNA sample within 72 hours for police.
Associate Dean of Student Affairs Jonathan Davis confirmed Burke was still a student at LSC.
A felony status conference is scheduled for May 4 at 9 a.m. In addition to the prison sentence, Burke faces a maximum $25,000 fine if convicted. His attorney, Peter Langrock, was unavailable for comment.
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