A former classroom aide at a northwestern Vermont elementary school is accused of sexually assaulting a young boy from the district where she worked.
Josie Spears, 33, cried before a court hearing about charges that could bring a life sentence in prison if she is convicted.
“There is evidence the guilt is great,” Franklin County Deputy State’s Attorney Diane Wheeler said at the hearing Thursday, which was held in a Burlington courtroom.
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Charging documents allege Spears repeatedly sexually assaulted a 9-year-old boy.
The child, who is now 10, recently revealed to police that Spears kissed him at school and said, “I love you, baby” in places she knew were out of view of building security.
The fourth grader also reported about 20 encounters at the suspect’s home which were more serious, when he was visiting to play with her son.
The child described a series of sex acts that Spears allegedly forced him to perform. Because of their disturbing graphic nature and to prevent further discomfort to the child or his family, necn has decided not to broadcast descriptions of the alleged sex crimes.
The news team at necn generally does not identify survivors of sexual assaults or of alleged sexual assaults without their permission.
Additionally, in this report, necn also chose to not identify the specific northwestern Vermont community where the alleged crimes took place, because it is a small place with few students the same age of the alleged victim.
According to investigative documents prosecutors filed with the court, Spears allegedly directed the elementary schooler to keep their relationship a secret, and not to tell anyone.
However, the documents said the child eventually described to his parents and to specialized sex crimes interviewers how some of the encounters made him angry or upset.
The boy also described the relationship as “messed up,” according to a written report from one of the police interviewers.
“Certainly, she vehemently maintains her innocence, and we will continue to persist in her defense,” said Jessica Burke, the defense attorney for Josie Spears, in response to a question from necn after Thursday’s hearing.
At the hearing, Burke asked for an extra day to go over the new felony charges with her client, so no formal plea was entered.
In late February, Spears denied other accusations of sending nude photos to the same child over social media.
Earlier this week, Spears appeared before a judge again and entered another not guilty plea. That followed a charge of violating the conditions of her release, after she allegedly waved to the victim when she was supposed to stay away.
Prosecutors indicated when Spears is arraigned Friday, they will push for her to be jailed without bail pending trial, given the seriousness of the charges and arguing she is a risk to reoffend.
The school district where this allegedly happened tells necn it places student safety and comfort as top priorities, so will have additional support staff on hand Monday when kids return from spring break.
The school superintendent said in a telephone interview that the district is now investigating the newest reports of serious misconduct by the former school employee, which just came to light Thursday.
Police are continuing to investigate, as well, after the child in the case told them another young boy may also have received nude photos from Spears.