Man sentenced for sexual assault on a girl

 MIDDLEBURY — A former Vergennes man will serve a prison term of 20 years to life in connection with the sexual assault of a 12-year-old Addison County girl back in November of 2012.

Addison County Superior Court Judge Robert Mello passed the sentence on Leo Pratt, 46, following an extensive hearing at the Addison County Courthouse on Thursday, March 27. Pratt was convicted of the charge of aggravated sexual assault in October, a trial that Judge Mello presided over in Addison County Superior Court, criminal division, last October.

Addison County State’s Attorney David Fenster and Deputy State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans prosecuted the case against Pratt, who was alleged to have assaulted the girl at his Vergennes home, according to court records.

Pratt has a lengthy criminal record that includes multiple convictions for assaultive behavior and various property crimes, according to court records. His record also includes a conviction for “prohibited acts,” relating to a text messaging incident involving a girl, Wygmans noted. Pratt has spent the majority of the past 30 years behind bars, according to Wygmans.

Prosecutors had recommended a 40-year sentence for Pratt, but said they were satisfied with 20 years to life handed down by Mello. It means that Pratt will be incarcerated until at least 2032, according to Wygmans. Pratt will also have to undergo counseling while in prison.

Wygmans said the victim is working to move beyond the abuse that she suffered.

“She’s dealing with the emotional trauma,” Wygmans said. “She’s a very strong, smart child. I’m hoping she will be able to find peace with the verdict and sentence.”

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