By Eric Francis
QUECHEE – A registered sex offender who authorities had been seeking for nearly three weeks after a young mother reported that he’d barged into her apartment near Quechee’s main street and forcibly attempted to rape her was arrested Tuesday and ordered held without bail.
Kevin Wheeler, 22, of Quechee pleaded innocent to felony counts of attempted sexual assault and lewd & lascivious conduct during a brief arraignment at the Windsor County Courthouse in downtown White River Junction. Wheeler also denied having violated his probation before he was taken directly to pre-trial detention at the Springfield jail, although he reserved his right to make an argument at a later date for some type of bail or pre-trial release.
Wheeler — who has previous convictions for lewd & lascivious conduct, domestic assault, providing false information to police, threatening harm over the phone, unlawful mischief, and several violations of probation and of court-ordered conditions of pre-trial release — now faces a mandatory minimum three-year jail term and a potential maximum sentence of up to life in prison if he were to be convicted of the new felony charges that have been filed against him.
Hartford police said that the 20-year-old victim was an acquaintance of Wheeler’s but they said he also knew that she already had a boyfriend and a young child of her own. Despite that, the victim told police that Wheeler had been pestering her for three months with sexual comments that made her uncomfortable as well as attempts to kiss her and even to pick her up and carry her towards his residence.
The putative victim told police that on the afternoon of March 16 Wheeler banged on her door for over five minutes loudly demanding to know if she would give him a cigarette, according to an affidavit filed with the court by Hartford Police Officer Kristinnah Adams. Fearing that he would wake her child who was napping, the victim told police she relented and opened the door to hand Wheeler a cigarette, at which point she said, he walked in and pinned her down on a couch, proceeding to molest her despite her insistence that he stop.
The victim told police that when she told Wheeler she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s child Wheeler allegedly replied “So what?”
Afterwards, the victim said, Wheeler simply got up and left while she frantically phoned her boyfriend who in turn contacted police who asked her to proceed directly to the hospital so that a nurse could recover potential DNA evidence. While that was taking place, Hartford Police dispatchers received two phone calls from Wheeler saying that the victim’s boyfriend had called and threatened to kill him for raping his girlfriend, Officer Adams wrote.
Wheeler denied a rape had taken place and gave an alibi for the previous evening but did not mention anything about any incident just an hour-and-a-half before the phone calls were placed, Adams said.
Adams said police talked to Wheeler on the telephone multiple times in the days following the alleged incident but he never appeared as promised at the police station so authorities finally issued a warrant for his arrest.
This article first appeared in the April 7th print edition of the Vermont Standard, Woodstock VT.