NEWPORT CITY — A North Troy man pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon in Orleans County Superior Court to a charge of sexual assault.
Judge Robert Bent ordered Isaiah Surdam, 35, to continue to be held without bail pending a weight of evidence hearing to decide whether to allow him to go free on bail.
Sexual assault carries a penalty of three years to a maximum of life in prison.
Surdam is being held at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport City.
Vermont State Police Detective Trooper Marie Beland said in an affidavit that an 18-year-old woman accused Surdam of cornering her in a bathroom at a party in a motel room in North Troy late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning, choking her and then sexually assaulting her without her consent.
Surdam told police the woman pursued him during the evening, leading to what he said was consensual sex without protection, Beland stated.
Both had been drinking alcohol, Beland said.
The woman told police she believed she had been given Xanax, a medicine for anxiety disorders and panic attacks, when she asked for Ibuprofen for a headache, Beland said.
Newport City police encountered the woman early Wednesday morning walking on a roadway. They took her to North Country Hospital for treatment after she told them she had been sexually assaulted.
Surdam, when interviewed later by police, said he didn’t know why he was being questioned, Beland said. When asked he described how she pulled him into the bathroom where they had consensual sex and said that the woman continued to kiss him and be affectionate afterwards, Beland said.
At Thursday’s arraignment, Bent noted that some of the witnesses questioned the woman’s credibility, and added that they were challenging what she said.
Bent said he would want to hear sworn testimony at the weight of evidence hearing to decide if Surdam could be released on bail and other conditions.
Orleans County Deputy State’s Attorney Phil Danielson said he wanted Surdam held without bail pending the hearing, and would argue that bail continue to be withheld, noting the severity of the maximum penalty if convicted, and Surdam’s recent criminal history.
Danielson said Surdam was convicted on drug charges in 2018, and then was stopped a day later in Massachusetts on drug charges. Danielson said Surdam has served some time in prison in Massachusetts.
Public Defender Lydia Newcomb said Surdam has only missed one hearing in court and has family in the area. She said she hopes to provide the court with an acceptable person to take responsibility for Surdam if he is released on bail.
Surdam said he is employed and did not want to miss a lot of work.
Bent said he would call the hearing as soon as possible.