Vermont police cadet found guilty of sexual assault

RUTLAND — A former Vermont Police Academy cadet was found guilty of sexual assault this past Thursday at Rutland County District Court, criminal division. Following a three-day trial that concluded on May 30, a Rutland jury convicted Kyle Lenher, 26, of the felony crime, according to a release from the Rutland County District Attorney’s office.
At trial, the state proved that just after midnight, on Aug. 14, 2016, Lenher compelled a friend of his from high school to engage in sexual intercourse. The two had met up for drinks at various bars in the Rutland area. Lenher became intoxicated, according to the release, and the woman offered to drive him home to his place in Brandon.
At his apartment, he took the keys of her vehicle and persuaded the woman to come inside his apartment, the release said. Once inside, Lenher reportedly ignored her protests and forcibly escorted her to his bedroom where he sexually assaulted her. The woman fled the house and called for assistance from her friends while walking down Route 7.
At the time of the offense, Lenher was a cadet at the academy in preparation to work for the Middlebury Police Department. The case is set for sentencing on Sept. 17. The former cadet faces up to life imprisonment.
Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley said his department hired Lenher in mid-July of 2016, had a two-week orientation and was then assigned to the police academy, where he had completed two weeks of initial training. 
“Nothing in his background — his personal life, polygraph, psych exam, service in the military, or other employment — provided any red flags or any indication of a potential problem; just the opposite,” Hanley told the Independent. “From all points he came highly recommended and was classified as a ‘re-hire’ should things not work out here.”
Brandon police notified Middlebury police of the incident on that Aug. 14. First thing the following Monday morning (Aug. 15), Hanley pulled him from the academy and he came to the MPD and immediately resigned before Middlebury could take any formal action.
“Our standards require recruits to follow all academy and department rules and to remain focused on their studies, not to go our carousing on the weekend,” Hanley said. “While these allegations were still in the incipient stage of the investigation, his conduct as a probationary employee were sufficient for separation, but we never got that far due to resignation.”
Deputy State’s Attorney Travis Weaver tried the case for the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“The state greatly appreciates the time of the jury as well as the bravery and fortitude of the young victim in this case,” Weaver said in the release. “It is not easy to come forward after being the victim of a sexual assault and we greatly admire her courage.”
“While many people think of sexual assault as a crime perpetrated by strangers, the experience of this office is that many assaults are perpetrated by people known and trusted by the victim,” he continued. “We encourage victims of sexual assault or abuse to contact the Rutland Unit for Special Investigations.”

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