Orwell man faces ‘life’ in sexual assault case: Jury finds Kolts guilty

MIDDLEBURY — A 70-year-old former coach and bus driver at Shoreham Elementary School is facing a mandatory 25 years to life in jail after he was found guilty by an Addison County Superior Court jury for repeated aggravated sexual assaults on a young girl between 2012 and 2014.
Rein Kolts of Orwell committed the sexual assaults on the girl when she was 11 to 13 years old, according to the charges filed by the Addison County State’s Attorney. She was not a student at the school nor even from the area.
During a hearing Friday, Judge Sam Hoar postponed a decision on releasing Kolts pending sentencing. Hoar is expected to rule on Wednesday when the hearing resumes at 8:45 a.m. The Addison County Sheriff’s Department returned Kolts after the hearing to the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland, where he has been held without bail since his conviction Jan. 20.
A jury deliberated 90 minutes before returning the verdict on the fourth day of trial.
Defense lawyer Mark Furlan is seeking to have Kolts released to live at his home with his wife pending sentencing. The sexual assaults happened at Kolts’ home on Vermont 73 in Orwell.
Furlan also said he plans to appeal the conviction to the Vermont Supreme Court.
Addison County State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans said the evidence of guilt was great, an assessment the judge acknowledged.
Besides the victim’s testimony, police had two confessions from Kolts, including one on video about 30 minutes into his initial police interview.
Wygmans told the court Kolts has no reason to stay at his home because of the mandatory 25-year minimum sentence that cannot be suspended or reduced. He also has an enhanced driver’s license that allows him into Canada or Mexico, the prosecutor noted.
He also noted that electronic monitoring proposed by the defense would be ineffective. He said the Vermont Probation and Parole Office would attach a monitoring bracelet on Kolts, but it is checked only once a day and not on weekends so the defendant could have a long head start before his disappearance would be known.
Two probation officials confirmed Wygmans’ assessment about the monitoring system. The defense suggested the Rutland office could monitor Kolts, but that office also is unstaffed on weekends the court was told.
Sgt. Ruth Whitney of the Addison County Sheriff’s Department testified briefly Friday that Kolts had threatened her when she went to his residence to ensure he was complying with a court order. A judge had refused Kolts’ request to go to his high school class reunion out of state.
“He would make me pay for this,” Whitney said Kolts stated as she left the residence. Whitney is assigned to the Addison County Unit for Special Investigations, which conducted the investigation. The defense did not question Whitney.
Whitney’s investigation showed Kolts had sexual intercourse with the girl at his home over a couple of years, court records show.
During the trial, the victim’s mother, a medical nurse who examined the girl and three police officers testified for the state.
The defendant did not take the stand during the trial. His wife, Karen Hall-Kolts, another relative, a doctor and a neighbor all testified for the defendant.
After the arrest of Kolts, prosecutors and Shoreham school officials reached out to families in the community because he had served as a bus driver and a basketball coach for boys and girls. The school said he was replaced on his Bet-Cha bus route during the investigation.

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