AG says state has no records of EB-5-related sex crime allegations

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) There are new explosive allegations against an unnamed state official, and now Vermont's attorney general wants to see the evidence supporting those claims. The claims were made by attorney Russell Barr who is representing a group of investors suing the state for their handling of the EB-5 scandal.

The lawsuit took a sordid turn Monday when Barr told reporters after a court hearing that a state official was arrested in 2013 or 2014 for having sex with a minor in China on an official trip supporting the EB-5 foreign investor program.

"It was-- it was having sex with a minor," Barr said.

Barr made the sensational allegation after a hearing Monday in which the state argued the investors' lawsuit should be dismissed. But Barr provided no evidence or information to support the claim, so WCAX News did not initially report it.

Judge Thomas Carlson didn't allow Barr to bring the allegation up in court, but Barr says he'll amend his clients' complaint to include the new claim.

"We have solid information, that on official Vermont Regional Center Jay Peak business, that an official was arrested for a crime," Barr said.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan responded publicly to the allegation Tuesday. He says at least two records requests related to the allegation have been made. The first by Republican operative Brady Toensing in 2014. Another by Barr's firm last November.

"No documents were ever disclosed because they did not exist. There was no responsive document found," Donovan said.

Donovan says Barr needs to turn over the information he has so authorities can determine if an investigation is needed.

"We have no knowledge whatsoever if these allegations are true. These requests that came in, there was no evidence to suggest this occurred. But if there is evidence and Russell Barr has it, he needs to turn it over," Donovan said.

While Barr plans to amend the complaint to add the allegation, he told WCAX Tuesday that he is not committing to providing the evidence. He questioned why the state never opened an investigation after the 2014 records request was made.

Donovan says his office would investigate if there is evidence to suggest a crime actually occurred.

"We'll conduct a full investigation. This goes to the very heart of our state if a state official did this. That said, we also have to understand that we don't just chase down rumors and innuendos. We need to have some evidence," he said.

Tuesday, the governor's office said it is asking the Department of Public Safety to determine if any such claims were ever previously reported or investigated.