by Dana Gray

Teary-eyed, state police Sgt. Mark Gray accused of sexual assault sat in a Washington County courtroom Thursday while his attorney tried to explain Gray's disappearance this week.

"He crashed," said attorney Oreste "Rusty" Valsangiacomo, referring to Gray's mental state on Monday. Gray, seated next to his attorney, displayed his emotion through reddened and watery eyes. Valsangiacomo revealed his client's trip to Holland Pond on Monday, where Gray stayed without food for two days before going to his parents' house.

Washington District Court

"Out of concern for his own well-being, he chose to be with his parents," said Valsangiacomo.

For more than two days, the former law enforcer accused of breaking the law forbidding sexual assault was missing.

His absence allegedly violated conditions of pretrial release imposed on him at an arraignment held in Orleans District Court on May 13.

At the May arraignment, Gray, 40, of Derby, pleaded innocent to a sexual assault charge he was given for allegedly raping a 28-year-old Craftsbury woman he had befriended after serving a subpoena on her.

Before releasing Gray into the public, Judge Walter Morris Jr. set conditions of release. One condition was that he pay $10,000 of a $50,000 appearance bond, which he did with help from his parents and a friend, Todd Willis, 28.

Two other conditions were that he adhere to a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and that he report daily to the Newport City Police Department for alcohol screening.

On Monday, Gray met one of the conditions but allegedly violated the other one.

He had his alcohol test Monday afternoon but didn't make his curfew. Willis, who Gray had been staying with, told police that Gray never returned home Monday night and advised them of a note his wife had found under her pillow from Gray, telling them that he loved them.

The search was on.

Early Thursday, police had found their man at his parent's house in Woodstock. When they went to the front door; however, Gray reportedly went out the back.

Later in the morning, Gray gave himself up. He and his parents, Donald and Nancy Gray, went to the office of his attorney to await court action. He was allowed to voluntarily present himself before Judge Edward Cashman at the Barre courthouse.

Gray pleaded innocent to six counts of violating release conditions. The condition violations are curfew and police reporting violations.

For the prosecution, Assistant Attorney General Suzanne Young argued for even more bail. Cashman supported her request for an additional bail amount of $20,000.

Valsangiacomo, worrying about his client's mental state and the possibility of jail time, asked that a mental evaluation be ordered.

Gray's attorney was hoping for a recommendation that his client go to the Vermont State Hospital while the $20,000 in bail is gathered.

The screener's report did not favor a visit to the Waterbury hospital. She decided Gray was not a risk to himself.

Instead, the screener suggested Gray undergo another check at the Central Vermont Hospital. He was ordered to the hospital for 72 hours and the bail money has been found.

However, Gray's freedom while he awaits trial comes with many restrictions. A 24-hour curfew was imposed, requiring him to live with his parents in Woodstock. He must report to the Woodstock Police Department daily. He can't drive and he must stay away from alcohol and firearms.

The only time Gray can leave his parents' house is with a parent.

His next court appearance is a status hearing on Aug.26 in Orleans District Court.

Copyright 1997

The Caledonian-Record

http://www.hcr.net/cr/

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