VERGENNES — A Vergennes man on Monday pleaded innocent in Addison County Superior Court, criminal division, to a felony charge of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, in connection with an alleged incident in the Little City on June 6.
It was on June 9 that Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel asked the Addison County Unit for Special Investigations (ACUSI) to look into a possible sexual assault on a child. Detective Sgt. Ruth Whitney interviewed a witness who alleged seeing Darrell Tucker, 57, chasing a boy in the yard of his Main Street home. The witness alleged seeing Tucker pull the boy’s pants down, then climb on top of the boy, followed by the sounds of “smacks and hitting flesh like a hand hitting a butt,” according to the affidavit.
The police investigation indicated that the boy was a family friend who had been spending much time at the Tucker house during the past year, including many weekends, for recreational activities and occasional chores, according to court records.
Police interviewed the boy, who alleged the incident was just “wrestling and grabbing,” according to the affidavit. Upon further questioning, the victim alleged to police that Tucker had grabbed his genitals, an incident he said lasted “for about 30 seconds or less,” according to court records.
The boy also told police that Tucker had shown him a pornographic video several months earlier, according to the affidavit. The youth told police he did not believe Tucker intended the incident that occurred in the yard to be in a “sexual, rapist or pedophile way,” according to court records.
State police interviewed Tucker on June 16. Tucker said he and the boy were “horsing around” in the yard, looking for fishing worms, according to court records. Tucker claimed that at one point, the boy’s knee was on his shorts, resulting in his shorts getting caught and ripped, according to the affidavit. Tucker then said he jumped off the ground and grabbed the boy’s shorts, pulling them part-way down, according to the affidavit. Tucker told police he never touched the boy’s genitals and that he had never shown the boy any pornographic movies, according to court records.
Conviction on a felony charge of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child carries a potential sentence of two to 15 years in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.