Middlesex businessman charged in sex assault on teen
BARRE — The owner of Wendel Excavation in Middlesex has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.
Bert A. Wendel, 47, pleaded not guilty to sexual assault on a victim under 16 years old, a felony, in Washington County criminal court Monday. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to the Vermont State Police affidavit, the girl said Wendel had unprotected sex with her around 10 times, the last on Jan. 6. The girl told state police the relationship lasted around three months and that the two were in love.
According to the affidavit, the girl said Wendel told her she couldn’t tell anyone about their relationship “because his business would be taken away, and he could go to jail for 20 years.”
The girl also said Wendel told her their relationship “wasn’t right.”
State police said the girl told them she had known Wendel for years and would “use him for cigarettes.” The girl told police the relationship progressed from there and that she would sneak out of her house to go drink with Wendel, which eventually led to sex.
The girl said her parents found out about the relationship when her grandfather saw Wendel drop the girl off at her house late one night. The parents then found Facebook messages between Wendel and the girl talking about past sexual encounters and plans for future ones, according to police.
When first interviewed by state police, Wendel said no sex with the girl took place but that she had a “crush on me and we talked, because she wanted to do (things) or whatever and be with each other, and I said, ‘We can’t, cause you’re too young.’ What have I got to lose? Everything ... I got.”
Police said Wendel eventually admitted to having sex with the girl, saying he “turned to the wrong person” when an affair with a woman did not work out.
Wendel has convictions for driving under the influence in 2002, two convictions for simple assault and one for unlawful trespass in 1992, two convictions for assault on a law enforcement officer in 1991 and two disorderly conduct convictions in 1986, all misdemeanors.
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