Stefan Hard / File Photo ¬ James Manning, 21, of Barre, left, consults his attorney while being arraigned in Barre in March.
The alleged ringleader of a central Vermont gang who has been accused of sexually assaulting minors in Washington County answered Wednesday to sexually assaulting a teenage boy in Rutland last year.
James A. Manning, 21, pleaded innocent in Rutland criminal court to a felony charge of repeated aggravated sexual assault. Judge Theresa DiMauro set bail concurrent with the $75,000 amount imposed in Washington County criminal court. He was returned to the Rutland jail after the hearing and remains behind bars. Manning, who has listed a Barre address in the past but was listed as having a North Main Street Rutland address in Rutland criminal court, was already facing six felony counts for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.
In the charge brought against him Wednesday, Manning — also known as “Rabbit” — is charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Rutland for months in early 2012.
Rutland City Police Detective David LaChance said the teenager reported the alleged incidents in February after seeing Manning’s picture in the news.
In interviews with police, the teenager, who is now 15, said he was involved in a sexual relationship with Manning that started in Feburary 2012. During that time, Manning allegedly traveled to Rutland and stayed at a local inn where the alleged assaults took place. During one of the visits in April or May 2012, the teenager said Manning gave him alcohol or pills and then allegedly tried to have sex with the boy, who said he pushed him away and stopped seeing Manning at that point.
In the sex assault charges brought against him earlier this year, a 14-year-old girl told police she and Manning had a sexual relationship from November 2012 to January 2013.
And in charges brought in January, Barre police say Manning led a group called the “Brotherhood Mafia” that started in Burlington, moved to Rutland, and then moved to Barre.
Police say a 15-year-old member of the group told them he saw Manning sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy as a form of initiation into the group.
The witness also said Manning sexually assaulted him and hit him in the head with a baseball bat as a form of initiation, police said.
Members of the Brotherhood Mafia allegedly would go around Barre setting fires, slashing tires, breaking into vehicles and writing graffiti on walls under the direction of Manning and another man, according to a police affidavit.
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