Orwell man jailed pending sentencing
MIDDLEBURY — A Vermont Superior Court judge told a 70-year-old Orwell man on Wednesday that he needs to remain in prison while awaiting sentencing for repeated aggravated raping of a young girl between 2012 and 2014.
Rein Kolts faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life following the two guilty sexual assault verdicts by the jury in Middlebury on Jan. 20. The girl was 11 to 13 years old when multiple acts of sexual intercourse happened, the charges said.
Judge Sam Hoar said he agonized over the legal arguments, but in the end believed he had to consider all the issues, including the possibility Kolts may flee. Hoar said he could not find any series of conditions that would allow Kolts to remain free.
Addison County State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans argued the courts and Legislature have made clear that people like Kolts should be detained under a state law that was modified several years ago because of a couple of high-profile sex cases.
He noted the 25-year minimum could not be suspended or reduced. He had said earlier it could be considered a life sentence for Kolts due to his age.
Defense lawyer Mark Furlan tried to show Kolts could be placed on home detention in the apartment house he and his wife own on Route 73 in Orwell near the Shoreham town line. He said the Vermont Corrections Department could monitor him.
The defendant’s wife, Karin Hall-Kolts, testified that her husband, who was a school bus driver and coach in Shoreham at the time of his arrest in May 2014, would not flee.
“Rein would never leave me,” she told the court. “He would not be able to function out there in the world.”
Under questioning from Wygmans, Hall-Kolts stood by her man.
“I don’t believe there were any rapes,” she said.
Hall-Kolts testified they had no real friends locally and they lived for each other. She said she controlled the three bank accounts and paid the bills. She said she was coming up on a very busy period at her job at Middlebury College.
Wygmans said it would be improper to send Holts to his home where the sexual assaults happened over a few years. He noted while Kolts’ wife is working at Middlebury College there would be nobody to monitor his behavior at home.
Hoar said the issue he had to consider was protection of the public and whether Kolts would flee. Hoar said in the end he had to support the state’s contention.
“A risk of flight can not be mitigated with conditions,” Hoar said.
He said it was a tough decision and not made lightly. It would weigh on him long after court adjourned.
“This will tear me up for a while,” Hoar said.
Kolts, over the objection of his wife and lawyer, told the judge that both the jury and court got the case wrong. He attacked the victim, not an Addison County resident, calling her “an unreliable witness.” Kolts said one officer perjured himself.
“I am going to a place that is pure hell,” said Kolts, who has been held at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland since Jan. 20.
Hoar said he believes the jury convicted Kolts with admissible evidence and the court would not “disrespect the jury” by rejecting its findings.
The jury deliberated about 90 minutes on the fourth day of the trial.
The jury heard two confessions given by Kolts to two police officers on separate days. The victim, her mother and the primary investigator, Detective Lt. Ruth Whitney of the Addison County Sheriff’s Department, were among those testifying.
Kolts did not take the stand during the trial.
Hoar had heard arguments last Friday on the possible release and continued the hearing until Wednesday to consider the defense’s request to release Kolts pending sentencing.
Kolts is still facing two additional charges: a felony obstruction of justice count and a misdemeanor charge of violation of conditions of release.
Furlan said he does plan to appeal the decision of the jury.
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