Sean Guillette, the convicted sex offender whose release from prison three years ago prompted concern and outrage from some in the Essex Jct. community, is facing a slew of new charges that could land him back in prison for life.
Guillette pleaded not guilty on Monday to accusations that he inappropriately touched a young girl at a supermarket in Burlington, adding to a growing list of criminal cases facing the 54-year-old, dating back to an April domestic assault investigation. During which police say they were tipped off to Guillette’s possession of illicit photos of underage children.
All told, Guillette now faces five felonies – one for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, third offense, and four related to the child pornography – in addition to two misdemeanors. The most recent offense carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Burlington police say they received a call on June 10 from a woman who said an unknown man groped her 10-year-old daughter at the Hannaford Supermarket in Burlington’s New North End. The girl told police she believed she had been approached by the same man a few days before in front of her house, court records show.
Two days after the incident, the child’s mother sent police Guillette’s photograph from the Vt. Sex Offender Registry and identified him as the suspect. Police say the mugshot matched a photograph of the suspect culled from security footage.
Police put out a bulletin for Guillette’s arrest on the night of June 13 and located him in South Burlington the following day, stopping his vehicle along Williston Road. During the arrest, Guillette managed to obtain an extendable box cutter while in restraints and attempted to cut his neck, causing superficial laceration before officers tazed him, police said.
He was taken to the University of Vermont Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening wounds prior to being lodged at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, where he remains without bail.
Burlington police say they are also investigating a separate incident involving another allegation of inappropriate touching with another 1o-year-old child that occurred in the Old North End on June 13, a day before Guillette’s arrest.
Police say the child was playing in her backyard with other children when a man described as white, middle-aged, with a medium build and shorter black-and-grey hair with scruff on his face came around the fence and touched the girl. BPD says it’s still unclear if the two cases are related. Police ask anyone with information to contact them at 540-2271.
Guillette served 17 years in prison for two felony convictions of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child prior to being released from prison in 2016.
Police listed Guillette’s official address as “transient” in a press release last week, but at the time of his release three years ago, he was living in Essex, prompting a public announcement from the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, which considered him a high-risk offender since he didn’t complete treatment in prison. Because he maxed out his sentence, however, he was no longer under the Department of Corrections supervision.
News of Guillette’s release led to a meeting organized by the Essex Community Justice Center and former police Chief Brad LaRose. There, a standing-room-only crowd aired concerns over their children’s safety, doubting efforts to reform Guillette would work. One parent at the 2016 meeting went as far as to read his address aloud to the crowd, against the wishes of the meeting’s organizers.
Guillette was also cited last week for violating conditions of release barring him from any contact with children under the age of 16. Those conditions were set last month in his child pornography case, which began after a woman told police said she had seen Guillette looking at the images on his phone. Police later found more than 60 images of child pornography on his mobile device, court records show.
Guilette tried to cover his tracks following the seizure of his phone, according to police, reportedly using a computer at Pathways Vermont Community Center in attempts to delete child pornography from his cell phone via cloud services. The Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children task force also says it receive a cybertip in March accusing Guillette of uploading pornographic photo of a child to his Instagram account, court records show.
In addition to the lewd and lascivious charge, Guillette up an additional 22-year maximum sentence if convicted on each of the child pornography charges. He’s due back in court next Tuesday.