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Archive for the ‘SEX CRIMES’ Category

By PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff
The Keene Sentinel: Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Keene psychologist has surrendered his license to practice mental health therapy in the wake of allegations he sexually assaulted and stalked a patient.

Dr. Burton G. Hollenbeck, 56, of Richmond has been indicted in Cheshire County on eight counts of felonious aggravated sexual assault, two counts of violating a protective order and one count of witness tampering.

Each sexual assault charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 to 20 years. Witness tampering, also a felony, is punishable by 3 1/2 to seven years in prison. Violating a protective order is a misdemeanor charge with a possible sentence of a year in jail.

Hollenbeck’s attorney, Cathy J. Green of Manchester, declined an interview request but released the following statement: “Dr. Hollenbeck will enter pleas of not guilty to all of these charges and is confident that when all of the facts are brought before the court, justice will prevail.”

Hollenbeck, who worked out of an office on Roxbury Street in Keene, hung up on a reporter when reached by phone Monday.

In late January, Hollenbeck agreed to quit practicing psychology in New Hampshire until the state Board of Mental Health Practice resolves the allegations of misconduct pending against him. Psychologists are barred by ethical code from having sex with current clients or former clients within two years of the termination of therapy.

The sexual assault indictments against Hollenbeck allege that he had sex with a 36-year-old patient eight times between March and October 2008. State law forbids doctors from having sex with current patients or former patients within a year of the termination of therapy. The patient’s identity in this case is being protected because The Sentinel does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.

The state Attorney General’s Office has appointed Hillsborough County Attorney Robert M. Walsh to prosecute the case. Walsh did not return messages seeking comment.

The alleged victim and her husband — they were married in 1995 and have two children — began seeing Hollenbeck for marriage counseling in mid-2006.

After learning that the wife had been abused when she was younger, Hollenbeck asked her to have one-on-one therapy sessions with him, according to separate lawsuits the wife and husband have filed against Hollenbeck.

They are seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for mental anguish, emotional distress, lost wages, legal fees and other damages, losses or expenses they say they suffered as a result of the alleged affair and Hollenbeck’s “wanton, malicious and oppressive” actions.

Shortly after the wife started her private sessions with Hollenbeck, the doctor bought her golf equipment, gold and pearl earrings, paid her auto insurance, gave her $200 toward a trip to Europe and paid $50 for her monthly phone bill between March and November 2008, according to the husband and his attorney, William Aivalikles of Nashua.

The wife and Hollenbeck became involved in a romantic relationship in February 2008, the husband states in his lawsuit. In October, Hollenbeck’s office manager blew the whistle on the alleged affair, but the wife and doctor denied the allegations, according to the lawsuit.

The husband states in court documents that he wrote a letter in support of Hollenbeck because he could not believe the doctor was having a romantic relationship with his wife.

But in early December, the wife came forward and admitted she was having an affair with Hollenbeck, her lawsuit states. She then ended the relationship, according to her lawsuit.

Her attorney, Paul M. DeCarolis of Nashua, declined to comment on the case.

“All I can say is we’re confident that the case will get before a civil jury in Cheshire County and the jury will issue the appropriate justice,” DeCarolis said.

Court documents indicate the wife is seeking at least $400,000 in compensation from Hollenbeck. Her husband wants $500,000.

Both lawsuits have been suspended until Hollenbeck’s criminal case concludes.

After the wife ended her romantic relationship with Hollenbeck, the doctor began stalking her, according to her lawsuit.

Claremont District Court Judge John J. Yazinski barred Hollenbeck from contacting the wife in a Dec. 22, 2008, restraining order. In her request for the restraining order, the wife writes that Hollenbeck followed her to a gas station on Dec. 3 and tried to block her car with his vehicle.

“I refused to tell him where I was going so he followed me all around Keene and a few miles out before giving up and turning around,” she wrote. “I fear for my life because I have reported him to the Board and I don’t know what he will do, how he will react and I have many phone messages for you to hear his temper.”

She writes that Hollenbeck won’t stop calling her and sending her text messages and that she’s seen him parked outside her house.

Four days after the incident at the gas station, Hollenbeck pulled the keys out of the ignition of the wife’s vehicle while she was trying to drive away from him during another confrontation, according to her statement in support of the restraining order.

Hollenbeck “told me I could have them back when I got to his office. Despite repeated (requests) to give them back he went to his office. As I entered he grabbed me and threw me on the couch. He threw me many times whenever I was able to get out of his grip. I told him, ‘No Burt No! Get off me!’ to no avail.”

Hollenbeck is accused of violating the restraining order by contacting the wife on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, 2008. During the latter conversation, he told her, “I can’t help you from prison,” according to the indictments. The alleged statement led to the witness tampering charge.

On Dec. 31, 2008, Hollenbeck was arrested for violating the restraining order. He posted $25,000 bail and was released from jail the next day. The restraining order remains active.

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By PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff

The Keene Sentinel: June 09, 2009

A former counselor for troubled teens who was accused of having sex with one of her students has accepted a plea negotiation with prosecutors after turning down a similar deal last year.

Cathleen Crowley, 30, of Rye was sent to the Cheshire County jail in Westmoreland for a month as part of the deal that was finalized last week.

Crowley withdrew her first guilty plea connected to the student’s accusations during a hearing last November in Cheshire County Superior Court.

The plea Crowley and her attorney, Gary S. Lenehan of Manchester, first negotiated with prosecutors would have kept her out of jail.

Judge Brian T. Tucker was expected to hand down suspended, one-year jail sentences on misdemeanor charges of sexual assault and giving alcohol to a minor.

But after hearing the case against Crowley — she was accused of giving the student alcohol and engaging in sex acts with him in her van and a hotel in Keene in 2007 — Tucker said he would reject the deal she made with prosecutors and hand down a six-month jail sentence.

Tucker said Crowley deserved to spend time in jail because of the boy’s age at the time of the alleged sexual assaults and the position of authority she held over him as his counselor.

The boy’s mother said previously in court that her son was 14 when Crowley became his counselor at a residential treatment program for troubled teens in the state.

“I can’t understand how you live with yourself,” the mother said. “I can’t understand how you could use your job to access young boys.”

The Sentinel does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.

After the first plea deal crumbled, Crowley and Lenehan went back to negotiating with prosecutors and preparing for trial.

A Cheshire County grand jury also re-indicted Crowley on two counts of felonious sexual assault. She would have faced up to seven years in prison on each count if a jury convicted her after a trial.

Tucker, meanwhile, removed himself from Crowley’s case because he’d already heard her plead guilty to sexually assaulting the student and giving him alcohol.

Months of negotiations culminated last week during a second plea and sentencing hearing handled by Judge John P. Arnold in Superior Court.

Crowley only admitted during the hearing to giving the student alcohol and endangering his welfare by keeping him out all night at the Keene hotel without his mother’s knowledge.

Arnold sentenced Crowley to a year in jail with 11 months suspended on the conviction for endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

She received a consecutive, suspended one-year jail sentence on the conviction for providing alcohol to a minor, also a misdemeanor.

Both suspended sentences could be imposed if Crowley is caught breaking the law in the next five years.

Crowley was placed on probation for two years, ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation for sexual offenders and barred from contacting the student.

Crowley has declined to comment on the student’s allegations. She is no longer employed at the residential treatment program where she met the student.

The state Division for Children, Youth and Families has substantiated an abuse finding tied to the student’s allegations against Crowley, Assistant Cheshire County Attorney John S. Webb said.

The finding appears on Crowley’s permanent state record and should prevent her from working again as a youth counselor or in a similar position, he said.

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By PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff
The Keene Sentinel: October 28, 2008
NEWFANE, Vt. — A Vermont man accused of sexually assaulting a girl and having child pornography committed suicide Tuesday in the Windham County Sheriff’s Department parking lot before he could be arrested on federal charges.

Joseph P. Childs, 39, of Townshend shot himself in the head with a 9 mm pistol while he sat beside his mother in the passenger seat of her car, waiting to turn himself over to Brattleboro police detectives, according to Sheriff Keith D. Clark.

Childs pulled the trigger just as detectives were approaching the car to arrest him on federal charges of possession and production of child pornography, according to Vermont State Police Sgt. John Hagen.

Hagen said Childs did not threaten anyone else with the gun. After the shooting, an ambulance rushed Childs to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

U.S. Attorney Thomas D. Anderson said the production of child pornography charge is tied to a girl who police say was repeatedly molested by Childs earlier this year. He said Childs also had child pornography that did not involve the girl.

The girl, now 10, told investigators that Childs began abusing her in March at his Brattleboro apartment. She said Childs would disrobe her and touch her inappropriately, according to an affidavit prepared by Brattleboro police detective Michael W. Carrier.

She also said that Childs sometimes gave her money after the incidents, and laughed once when she told him her parents would eventually find out about the abuse.

Childs was arrested at his mother’s Townshend residence in April after a brief standoff with Vermont State Police troopers.

He was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

He was re-arrested in May on charges of possession of child pornography and promoting sexual conduct with a child. Investigators said Childs’ computer contained images of child pornography.

Carrier refused to say whether those charges involved the girl Childs allegedly molested.

Childs was released from the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., after posting $15,000 bail shortly after his second arrest.

The Vermont State Police are investigating Childs’ death. His body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy scheduled for today.

In the meantime, a second man, Anthony M. Giallella, 70, of Brattleboro faces two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. He and Childs are accused of molesting the same girl.

Giallella, a convicted sex offender, was arrested Oct. 17, when he showed up at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital threatening to kill himself because of what he’d done to the girl, police said.

He is accused of directing the girl to remove her clothing and inappropriately touching her on several occasions while the two were alone inside his Brattleboro apartment.

During a search of Giallella’s apartment, investigators said they found children’s underwear and diary entries describing sexual encounters with other young girls.

They also found numerous photographs of Giallella posing with children inside his apartment. They are working to identify those children.

Giallella remains at the Springfield jail for lack of $5,000 bail.

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By PHILLIP BANTZ
The Keene Sentinel:  December 19, 2007
A Keene man who sexually abused two young relatives for more than a decade faced his crying wife, an outraged judge and one of his victims Tuesday before he was sent to prison.

Howard Weiss, 56, pleaded guilty in Cheshire County Superior Court to seven counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of attempted aggravated sexual assault, all felonies.

As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in N.H. State Prison, followed by 15 years’ probation.

Weiss will be eligible for parole in 10 years if he follows the rules in prison and completes a sexual offender program.

He also received six suspended sentences of seven to 15 years, which can be imposed if he gets into any other legal trouble.

Weiss was barred from having contact with the two victims or anyone under the age of 16.

Judge John P. Arnold said Weiss should be spending the rest of his life behind bars.

“I think he belongs in state prison until he escapes by death,” Arnold said during the hearing. “I don’t think he ever deserves to see the light of day outside of state prison.”

The now-adult victims, one of whom was present Tuesday during the sentencing, said through a court-appointed victim advocate that they had experienced enough abuse in their lives and did not want to be dragged through a trial. They had agreed to Weiss’s plea deal.

“I respect the victims’ wishes that the court accept this negotiated disposition,” Arnold said, “and the court will do so with great reservations.”

The Sentinel does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

Weiss, a tall man with bushy gray hair and a protruding belly, spoke only when responding to Arnold’s questions during the hearing. Both of his wrists were bandaged with white gauze. He had attempted suicide, according to his court-appointed attorney, Michael C. Shklar.

Helen Weiss wept as she sat behind her husband in the small courtroom. Before Weiss was led away in handcuffs, he turned and looked at her. She stared back blankly.

Their childhoods lost

When allegations surfaced in February that Weiss had molested a 3-year-old girl, one of his victimized relatives stepped out of the shadows and spoke with police after more than two decades of silence.

The woman, now 29, told investigators Weiss began molesting her when she was 4 and continued the abuse until she was 15.

She had kept quiet for years, but decided to speak out after learning of another possible victim, Assistant Cheshire County Attorney John S. Webb said.

Keene police did not have enough evidence to move forward with an investigation into the allegations that Weiss had abused the 3 year old. The relative who stepped forward, however, would help send Weiss to prison.

She provided investigators with a statement that detailed years of sexual abuse at the hands of Weiss.

The incidents began with inappropriate touching and later escalated to “virtually every variety” of sexual abuse imaginable, Webb said.

Another of Weiss’s relatives later stepped forward and said Weiss began molesting him when he was 4 years old, according to an affidavit prepared by Keene police detective James F. McLaughlin.

The affidavit says the abuse took place in multiple residences in Keene, Swanzey and Westmoreland from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s.

Investigators said Weiss used a Polaroid camera to take naked pictures of the victims and had set up a video camera in a room where the female victim slept.

Weiss would sometimes slap the two relatives if they attempted to fight back during the abuse, and had threatened to harm their mother if they contacted police, Webb said.

Weiss listened in silence during his sentencing hearing as Julie Scott, a victim advocate for the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office, read a statement from the female victim.

“All I really want to know is why?” she said. “Love’s not supposed to hurt, but you made it hurt. … I hate you for taking my childhood away from me.”

Scott said the male victim, now 30, was too angry to attend the hearing, but wanted Weiss to know that even “a lifetime (in prison) would not be enough” of a punishment.

Caught in a web of abuse

A past riddled with sexual abuse shaped Weiss’s future and the nightmarish lives of his two victims, according to statements Helen Weiss made to investigators.

Helen Weiss had been aware her husband was abusing his two relatives, according to the affidavit.

A message seeking comment from McLaughlin, the Keene police detective, as to whether Helen Weiss will be charged in connection with the abuse went unanswered.

In many cases, it can be difficult to prove a person has specific knowledge of a criminal act, Cheshire County Attorney Peter Heed said today.

During several conversations with his wife, Weiss admitted that he had molested the two relatives and another young male, but he did not detail the specific sexual acts and Helen Weiss did not press her husband for additional information, according to the affidavit.

“Howard Weiss did offer to Helen (Weiss) that his father, stepmother, older sister and grandfather molested him and he was not able to resist molesting” the children, the affidavit states. Weiss “further stated that his father beat him, so he has no ‘will power’ and could not stop himself from molesting the children.”

The affidavit does not indicate whether Helen Weiss, who has been married to Weiss for more than 26 years, ever witnessed the abuse. Attempts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful.

While executing a search warrant on Weiss’s home in June, investigators found and seized a hand-carved wooden sex toy, photography and video equipment, and a three-page apology letter written by Weiss for the female victim, according to the affidavit.

Weiss explained in the letter that his mother and stepfather were members of a cult that believed in “having sex with children of all ages.”

He concludes the letter by telling the female victim that “I miss you and I do love you for who you are. Believe or not!”

Weiss had a tumultuous family life and was convicted on a child molestation charge when he was a teenager, according to the affidavit.

Investigators were given a glimpse into Weiss’s background during an interview with his former probation officer.

The details of that interview are included in the affidavit, as follows:

Weiss was born in Connecticut and had 10 siblings through his parents’ divorces. He went as far as the 9th grade in school, and was sent to an academy for children with emotional disabilities when he was 11 or 12 years old.

He spent a year in another mental-health treatment facility after being convicted of a child molestation charge when he was 16.

Weiss later joined the Army and was sent to Germany. He overdosed on drugs shortly after he received orders to serve a tour of duty in Vietnam, and was discharged from the Army on disability.

“Although Weiss has purported to be a disabled vet from Vietnam injuries, he has never had combat injuries, and in fact was never in Vietnam,” the affidavit states.

Waiting for death and expecting hell

No matter the length of his sentence, Weiss does not expect to leave prison alive, according to his attorney.

When Weiss learned police were looking into allegations that he had molested two relatives, he attempted to overdose on pain medication and cut his wrists with a knife and razor, according to the affidavit.

Investigators also said Weiss suffers from a potentially fatal heart condition, and had stopped taking his medication.

“He expects to die in prison,” Shklar, Weiss’s attorney, said during the hearing. “Mr. Weiss expects to go to hell.”

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