BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) A 17-year-old faces life in prison and his 18-year-old girlfriend could get 15 years stemming from an alleged sexual assault at Spaulding High School in Barre.
Court documents outline a vicious assault on a fellow 17-year-old student that allegedly happened late last month. They say Ethan Burachowski, 17, struck the victim in the head with a backpack in the band room at the school. He then attempted to sodomize the victim with a drumstick through his pants.
The documents say Burachowski's girlfriend, Grace Pierce, 18, recorded the assault on her phone and distributed a portion of it on Snapchat. She is allegedly heard in the recording encouraging the attack and laughing behind the camera.
"There's a significant amount of ridicule of the victim leading up to this, so it was clearly an abusive and harassing situation," Washington County State's Attorney Rory Thibault said.
Burachowski is charged with attempted sexual assault, aggravated assault and aggravated disorderly conduct. The attempted sexual assault carries a penalty of up to life in prison.
Pierce is charged with aiding in the commission of aggravated assault, aggravated disorderly conduct and distributing indecent material to a minor.
Thibault says such an assault at school deserves a significant response from authorities.
"I think it's incredibly important to make sure when something does go awry at a school that we respond in a way that promotes public safety and hopefully healing for those involved," he said.
Barre City police wrote in an affidavit that they seized Pierce's phone and have asked for the passcode to retrieve the full video, but she and her parents have not shared it.
The victim is no longer enrolled at the school.
"It's horrible any time any student has to not go to school because they're afraid for their own personal safety," Thibault said.
Burachowski is also no longer enrolled at the school, but Pierce continues to attend Spaulding.
The case against Burachowski was originally in family court and sealed off from the public, but Thibault says more severe charges sent it to criminal court.
"As investigation furthered and we got more information, it became clear that there was a basis for an aggravated assault charge. Aggravated assault is one of the big 12 offenses that must be brought in criminal division," he said.
Both Burachowski and Pierce pleaded not guilty Thursday. They were released with conditions and are due back in court in February for a status conference.