A Vermont couple is in custody on charges they forced a child to have sex with them.
40-year-old Stacey Parnitzke and 38-year-old Shane Casey pleaded innocent in court Friday to charges of aggravated sexual assault. The alleged victim was just nine years old when the crimes allegedly occurred.
During Casey's arraignment, prosecutor Susan Hardin described the acts as "egregious."
"The defendant is facing life in prison," she told the court. "This is a very serious charge, and the state would contend that had that child not left the state and gone back to California to be with her father, he would have continued the assault."
Both suspects pleaded not guilty and are being held on $25,000 bail.
"This one was probably the worst case I've ever investigated," said Det. Lance Burnham of the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations. "From her own stories and her own words, she was forced to have sex with numerous men throughout a significant amount of time."
According to court papers, Parnitzke would make the girl watch pornographic movies, then make her imitate things she had seen in the movie with Casey. There's some indication they drugged her as well. Police wrote in a sworn affidavit, "As he was on top of her she would feel something sharp on her arm like a shot from the doctor. ... She said that she would feel dizzy or like she was falling asleep."
Det. Burnham said the crimes likely would not have come to light without the victim coming forward.
"We have a very strong victim," he said. "She's shown a lot of strength for her age. She's young, but she's very well spoken and she's got a lot of support. If we didn't have that and she wasn't as strong as she is, we wouldn't have had the case we had."
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