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A woman sought help from her sheriff. He’s now charged with raping her.

Vermont sheriff Peter Newton exploited his power ‘with the purpose of sexually assaulting her,’ the woman told police

Addison County Sheriff Peter Newton. (WPTZ)
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A woman reached out to her local sheriff in May 2021 seeking protection from an ex, Vermont State Police said, and when Addison County Sheriff Peter Newton met her, he promised to do just that.

For the next seven months, the woman grew to trust Newton, Sgt. Angela Baker, a State Police detective, wrote in a sworn affidavit. And while the woman was initially interested only in a platonic relationship, that changed as Newton came to embody her idea of safety, according to the report.

Because he was sheriff, “she did not think he would do anything to harm her,” Baker wrote.

Then, he began raping her, the woman told investigators. She “now knows that Newton used his job and his position as sheriff to find her and groom her with the purpose of sexually assaulting her,” the affidavit states.

On Tuesday, Newton, 50, was arrested and arraigned on two counts of sexual assault, one count of second-degree unlawful restraint and one count of domestic assault, state police said in a news release. He faces life in prison if convicted of either sexual assault charge.

Newton has pleaded not guilty, VTDigger reported. His attorney, Jason Sawyer, did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post. But in April, Newton told VTDigger that he thought people were orchestrating the case against him in an effort to “soil” his name as he prepared to run for reelection.

In a Facebook post the following month, he referred to the woman’s history of 911 calls as “nonsense.”

On Feb. 26, she called 911 while at Newton’s home, according to the affidavit. When police responded, the woman told them that — while she and Newton often had consensual sex — there were times when he “took it too far” and “exceeded what she thought was okay.” Officers photographed bruises on the woman’s body — marks police described as “substantial.”

Newton told police at the scene that he wanted the woman out of his place. He described her as “paranoid.”

The woman told police she didn’t want to press charges and called only so they could document what had happened and make it stop.

No arrests were made that morning, but investigators with the State Police spent months trying to coax the woman into an interview. When she finally agreed to participate in one this month, she told them she had met Newton around May 2021 when she needed help with the father of her children, whose actions made her feel unsafe.

Newton told the woman that he would investigate her ex and that “she would be safe with him,” according to the affidavit.

Newton and the woman communicated often after that, the woman said. Around December, their relationship turned sexual, the report states. But oftentimes, the woman told police, Newton raped her when she was too drunk to consent or engaged in sexual acts she had specifically told him were off limits.

One time during sex, she told police, Newton placed a belt around her neck without her permission. He “just did it,” the affidavit said.

“She remembered expressing concern that he was going to kill her by strangling her,” the report adds.

On occasions when she asked him to stop, the situation only “gets worse,” the woman told police.

“Peter doesn’t hear the word no,” she said.

In her interview with state police, the woman gave more context to the Feb. 26 incident. She told investigators that she and Newton were arguing after she told Newton he wasn’t supporting her, the affidavit said. When she told him this, he gave her a “look” that meant he “was going to punish her sexually and she was going to get hurt,” she told police.

She called 911 before that happened, according to the affidavit.

By early March, state police were investigating, which ultimately led to Newton’s arrest on Tuesday.

When news of the case against Newton broke, he insisted he would keep running for another four-year term as sheriff. He has since announced that he’ll merely serve out the rest of his term, which ends in early 2023.

After Tuesday’s arraignment, Newton was released on bond after agreeing that he won’t possess any guns or engage in law enforcement activities, prosecutor Rory Thibault told The Post. The sheriff has said on Facebook that he plans to continue working at a contracting business he started, VTDigger reported.

The Addison County high bailiff, an elected official who steps into an acting role when the elected sheriff is jailed or resigns, noted that Newton has not been proved guilty but called on him to step down immediately.

“It is simply impossible for Sheriff Newton to continue serving the community in a law enforcement capacity under the cloud of these very serious charges,” High Bailiff Dave Silberman said in a Tuesday news release.

Newton told reporters Tuesday that he plans to do no such thing.

“I’m still the sheriff,” he said.

Jessica Lipscomb contributed to this report.

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