Court allows supervised work hours for Chester sex assault defendant

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC


Chester resident Ryan Stocker appeared before the Windsor County Superior Court Criminal Division twice this week, the second and third time he has come into this courthouse since he was charged in late June with two counts of sexual assault,

On Tuesday, he appeared briefly as Judge Theresa DiMauro approved a schedule of fall 2017 deadlines for depositions, defense motions and witness lists, setting the date for the case to be “trial-ready” by March 1, 2018.

Ryan Stocker takes the oath to testify on behalf of a reduction in his curfew as he awaits trial. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Then on Wednesday, DiMauro heard arguments in a motion to “review” Stocker’s conditions of release. The motion, which was filed on July 13, was partially amended on July 14 to allow Stocker to attend funeral services and the burial of his great grandmother, who had died on July 10.

Under his original conditions of release, Stocker has been required to stay at his father’s home 24 hours a day, seven days a week except for court dates, meetings with his attorney, doctor visits and emergency medical treatment. Among others conditions was no alcohol, no contact with the victims and no contact with females under 18.

The rest of the motion to review noted that Stocker was postponing his attendance at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire until September 2018, that he had received a “substantial scholarship” that did not cover 100 percent of the cost of his education and that he was unable to work to save money for school under the 24-hour curfew imposed by DiMauro on June 19.

Defense attorney Melvin Fink called Stocker’s father, Chad Stocker, as a witness, asking if he would hire his son in his construction business. The elder Stocker told the court that his son had worked for him last summer as a laborer and that he had enough business to keep him working this year as well. Stocker said he typically has work hours from 7 or 8 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m. six days a week.  Stocker said he would pay his son $10 per hour and supervise him directly.

Deputy State’s Attorney Heidi Remick asked Chad Stocker if his supervision of his son would including having “your eyes on him all the time.”

Stocker said the job sites he works on are small so his son might not be in his line of sight, but he would not be more than a few hundred feet away.

Remick asked if Franklin Pierce University knew of his son’s circumstances in deferring his attendance.

“I’m not sure,” said Stocker. “I can’t imagine they don’t. It’s been all over the news and the papers.”

Remick also asked if Stocker was to leave a job site, how would he supervise his son. Stocker told the court that he would take his son with him.

Defense attorney Melvin Fink, left, asks Stocker to outline the changes he is requesting in his curfew.

In attempting to show that the defendant was not a danger to the victims in the case, Fink put Ryan Stocker on the stand and asked if he had contacted any of the women since “the alleged incident.” Stocker said he had not.

But a line of questioning in which Fink asked if the victim known as “SD” had contacted Stocker on Snapchat to hang out on the day following the incident raised an immediate objection from Remick.

DiMauro sustained the objection, saying, “The court can’t put any weight on that.” DiMauro, noted that this was Stocker’s own representation without any proof. Typically, communications on Snapchat disappear shortly after being read without any record being kept.

Asked what change he would want in his conditions of release, Stocker said he would like the 24-hour curfew reduced so he would be able to be out from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. While his father said that his company worked six days a week, Stocker said he wanted to be able to visit his mother in Pittsford on Sundays so she would not have to drive to Chester to see him.

Remick noted that given the serious nature of the charges – which she called “life offenses” referring to the maximum possible sentence – the presumption would be for a defendant to be held without bail until trial. She noted that the court had already made an allowance for the defendant in allowing the round-the-clock curfew instead of jail.

“The state submits that a 24-hour curfew is appropriate and should remain,” said Remick.

Characterizing the situation as less serious than Remick’s description, Fink noted that the “alleged incidents had taken place in a private, party atmosphere where drinking was going on – by everybody, late at night and into the morning” He added that the defense maintains that the sex was consensual.

Judge DiMauro noted that Stocker had considerable amount of freedom as a 17-year-old, “out of the house at all hours – drinking,” and that while she was not inclined to give him freedom, she would consider a work exception only for the days that he had “verifiable employment with his father and that his father must provide transportation.”

As for the Sunday request, DiMauro said Stocker would not “be driving around various counties at a whim.”

At one point, Fink referred to ongoing investigations and, at times during the original arraignment and this week’s hearings, Judge DiMauro left open the possibility of changes in the conditions if there are more charges.

“I can’t comment on investigations that may or may not be going on,” Remick told The Telegraph following the hearing. “My office has not received further charges so, at the moment, the situation is the same as when the judge imposed conditions in June.”

Court documents show that the state made a motion to amend information in the original complaint. According to an affidavit, the date of the  assault that occurred in Ludlow should be October 2015, not 2016. The assault that took place in Chester occurred in May 2017.

The victim in the earlier case was 15 at the time and did not report the incident to police until she heard about the second assault from a friend, who was the victim in the second case. That case became public when the mother of the second victim appeared before the Green Mountain school board seeking better education about sex assaults to be offered at school.

At the time of the assaults, the two victims and the alleged perpetrator were Green Mountain Union High School students. Since then, one victim has graduated.  Stocker told the court that he has not graduated yet since he has not finished the take-home final exams the school gave him. Neither assault occurred on school property nor during a school sanctioned event.

Under Vermont statutes, sexual assault is a felony and each count carries a minimum sentence of three years in prison with a maximum of life. In addition, the court may levy a fine of up to $25,000 for each count.

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