Cornwall man charged in sexual assault on a child

<p> VERGENNES &mdash; Vergennes police last Tuesday arrested a Cornwall man at his home and charged him with aggravated sexual assault on a child younger than 10 years old in connection with an incident at a Vergennes business earlier that day.</p><p> Michael S. Wedge, 29, was lodged at the Chittenden County Correctional Facility that night for lack of $25,000 bail. The next day he pleaded not guilty in Addison Superior Court, Criminal Division, and was jailed without bail. Wedge could face a sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine up to $50,000 if found guilty.</p><p> In an affidavit, Vergennes police detective Jason Ouellette tells how a man identified from security footage as Wedge allegedly followed a four-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother into an aisle at a city store separate from the aisle where their mother was shopping. Ouellette alleged that Wedge pulled the girl into a nearby aisle, touched her vagina and adjusted her pants before allowing her to return to her mother.</p><p> The girl apparently ran to her mother and told her what happened. The boy said the man had a piercing in his lip, according to the affidavit.</p><p> A business employee saw Wedge with the girl, according to the affidavit, and Vergennes police identified Wedge on the security footage. Two Vergennes police officers and Chief George Merkel went to Wedge&rsquo;s home in Cornwall, where Ouellette said they found clothing worn by the man in the security video.</p><p> Police took Wedge to their office, where, Ouellette alleges, he admitted to touching the girl inappropriately, and to having thoughts of touching girls in the past. When Merkel told Wedge&rsquo;s mother about the incident, she allegedly told him that he had a brain injury from a car accident 10 years ago. Ouellette reported that Wedge has a driver&rsquo;s license and that he remembered various information, including his mother&rsquo;s birthday, without difficulty.</p><p> &ldquo;Michael was well spoken throughout our interview,&rdquo; Ouellette wrote in his affidavit. &ldquo;Michael showed no signs of impairment.&rdquo;</p><p> Merkel urged parents to be watchful of children in their care.</p><p> &ldquo;My advice to parents is to always keep an eye on your children,&rdquo; Merkel said. &ldquo;This can happen anywhere, you can&rsquo;t assume anything just by the way a person looks.&rdquo;</p><p> A status conference in this case is set for Jan. 28.</p>

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