Kolts sentenced at emotional hearing
MIDDLEBURY — Rein Kolts, a 70-year-old Orwell resident and former coach and bus driver at Shoreham Elementary School, on Monday was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for repeated nonconsensual sex with a minor.
Kolts was convicted on Jan. 20 for the assaults on a girl who was 11 to 13 years old when the crimes were committed. The victim, a New Hampshire resident and Kolts’ niece, told police the offences occurred more than five times at Kolts’ Orwell home and once in Chester.
Kolts, who was sentenced in Addison Superior Court, criminal division, is appealing that verdict to the Vermont Supreme Court. Judge Samuel Hoar and Addison County State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans said in court on Monday that Kolts has filed complaints against both of them that are pending.
Hoar rendered the sentence after hearing not only from Wygmans and Kolts’ defense lawyer, John St. Francis, but also from family members of the victim.
The victim’s mother and sister, New Hampshire residents, directed their anger for almost 20 minutes both at Kolts and his wife, Karin Hall-Kolts, who they blamed for backing her husband and not believing and supporting her niece.
The sentence guidelines called for Hoar to impose a sentence of at least 25 years, and both women sought the maximum of life in prison for a man the victim’s mother referred to as a “despicable pedophile” and a “sick, twisted individual.”
“You were a coward who preyed upon a young individual with your selfish, despicable, gross passion,” said the victim’s mother, looking at Kolts. “He needs to receive the maximum sentence so he will not do any more harm.”
The victim’s sister called Kolts “society’s worst nightmare,” “the monster that every parent is fearful of,” and “the most disgraceful human being that walks on the face of the earth.”
She called him an “arrogant and self-centered individual” for not pleading guilty and thus prolonging the family’s agony even after twice confessing to his crimes, once on videotape to Vermont State Police, and added, “Today, I know you will be stuck in a jail cell for the rest of your pathetic life.”
The victim’s sister said the victim took a dark turn when the abuse started, and only when she came forward and tell the world what was happening did the family understand why.
“My sister growing up always had a smile on her face. She was always happy, and she was very confident … But when my sister turned 11 years old, she turned more secluded and started wearing dark clothing, and started to injure herself,” she said. “Little did I know that a man that I trusted to spend so much time with my little sister would do something like this.”
The victim’s sister said that when Kolts was found guilty in January her younger sister started to do better.
“She is now a strong young woman … She will continue with counseling,” she said. “She is getting stronger every day with this horrible repulsive individual behind her out of sight.”
The two women’s sentencing testimony showed an angry rift between two sides of a family that formerly spent holidays together in Orwell. The victim’s mother referred to Kolts’ wife and friends who also protested Kolts’ innocence as a “gaggle of evil supporters,” and that there would be no more contact among them.
“We have ridded ourselves of the evil influences caused by these immoral people,” she said, later adding the victim at first missed those people she once had happy times with, but “She has since learned that people like this are trash to be disposed of.”
KOLTS STATES INNOCENCE
Kolts also spoke and said he was “brokenhearted” about the family rift.
He also continued to protest his innocence, although a jury that deliberated for 88 minutes in January did not agree.
“The reason I’m here today is because of very incompetent counsel at trial,” Kolts said.
St. Francis did not represent Kolts in January; Mark Furlan did.
Kolts insisted the state withheld evidence and suppressed testimony; questioned the mental health of the victim and the validity of her testimony, which he called “wholly unreliable”; and stated there was no physical evidence of rape to the victim, detailing specifics he said were lacking.
“The state cannot even prove a rape occurred,” he said, adding he suffers from “erectile dysfunction.”
Kolts also claimed his two confessions weren’t actual confessions because he was confused about the questions and his answers were misinterpreted. A vtdigger.com story quoted Furlan in January saying that Kolts’ two confessions to police should not have been allowed as evidence.
He also said that if one of the incidents had actually occurred as described by the victim — outside the Orwell home — then she “could have called out for help or simply run away from an old man with bad knees.”
Kolts also criticized the victim’s mother’s testimony.
“Her mother perjured herself on the stand so many times,” he said.
He also addressed the victim in absentia.
“The lies will always haunt you unless you stand up to your mother and father,” Kolts said. “We miss you and we love you … Tell the truth. It may be your last chance.”
Judge Hoar said in imposing the sentence he was not swayed by any emotional testimony or by the fact that Kolts had filed a complaint against him with the Judicial Conduct Board, but rather he simply applied the sentencing guideline that the Legislature had created for the crime.
“I’m bound by the law as specified by the authors of the statute,” Hoar said, while adding that given Kolts’ age, “The court notes that sentence may be a life sentence.”
Kolts had been held since his conviction without bail at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland. Hoar had denied Kolts bail at a February hearing, ruling that he was a potential flight risk.
In April 2014 Det. Sgt. Ruth Whitney of the Addison County Unit for Special Investigations began her investigation into the Kolts case, after the victim came forward with allegations that she had been sexually assaulted several times during the past two years.
The victim told police in May2014 that Kolts had most recently raped her on that Easter Sunday in Chester, according to an investigation affidavit filed by Whitney. She also stated that Kolts had assaulted her “numerous times over the past two years at the Kolts’ residence in Orwell, Vermont,” the affidavit states. The girl claimed the first assault took place during the summer between her 5th and 6th grade years.
All of the assaults involved intercourse, according to court records, with the most recent incident in Orwell taking place in February 2014.
The child’s mother told police that the girl would spend some of her vacations at the Kolts residence — sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by an older sister and at times with the whole family, according to court records.
The girl’s mother said the Kolts’ residence was referred to as “Camp Cookie,” which has three trails leading from the residence, each named for a girl (including the victim) who regularly visits, according to the affidavit.
The victim’s mother also told police that her daughter began cutting herself and spending a lot of time in her room when she started sixth grade, according to court records, but that since disclosing the assaults her mood and behavior improved.
Police said they interviewed Kolts on May 13, 2014, and that Kolts initially “denied any sexual contact with (the victim). He described their relationship as very loving and he had an emotional connection with (her),” according to court records.
But police reported that Kolts admitted to a sexual relationship with the girl around a half-hour into the interview and confessed to having had unprotected sexual intercourse with the child on three occasions, according to the affidavit.
“Kolts said that he knew having a sexual relationship with (the girl) was wrong and Kolts advised us repeatedly, ‘I’m guilty, I’m a criminal and I deserve to go to jail,’” the affidavit states.
Addison County Judge Robert A. Mello presided over Kolts’ May 2014 arraignment and ordered him held on $50,000 bail. Kolts, who has no prior criminal record, was taken to the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Center following the court proceeding, according to investigators, but was later released on bail until his trial.
Authorities and school officials wanted to make sure there were no other victims, and the Shoreham Elementary School principal sent out a letter to the school community explaining the situation, stating there were no local victims, and adding that there would be a new bus driver. Kolts had driven a bus for the school since November 2015 and had also coached that winter for its K-2 basketball program.
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