Court Security

Alleged rape in courthouse restroom follows complaints of harassment by female lawyers

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A defendant in a Vermont drug case has been charged with raping a female acquaintance in a women’s restroom at the Burlington criminal courthouse last week.

However, authorities did not release news of the alleged courthouse sexual assault until a week later, on Thursday evening, after the Burlington Free Press reported on the arrest warrant. Police told the newspaper they had not publicized the incident because they were trying to capture the suspect, who remains at large, and said it was a joint decision between prosecutors and the police.

“This was not a case of a stranger rape in which a suspect at large poses a danger to the general public,” said Burlington’s police chief, Brandon del Pozo, in a written statement. “The publicity will now also make it harder to locate Robert Rosario and bring him to justice despite an aggressive, thorough and promising investigation. He is now on the run, and we have good reason to believe he has fled the state.”

A court filing says the suspect’s fingerprint was found on a stall in the restroom, among other evidence.

Detective Peter Chapman said in an affidavit that several lawyers in the courthouse had complained before the alleged attack about “sexually aggressive and inappropriate behavior” by a man who looked like Rosario, another Burlington Free Press story reports.

The female attorneys said “he had followed each of them very closely and made them feel uncomfortable and unsafe to the point that they had waited in an interview room waiting for him to leave,” wrote Chapman. They told a state prosecutor, who told court security about the incidents.

The state attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case because members of the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office may be called as witnesses at trial.

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