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Two volunteer firefighters charged in Vermont sex slavery case involving boy

By Rande Iaboni, CNN
updated 12:46 PM EST, Mon March 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A man now in his 20s says he was forced to participate in sexual acts as an adolescent
  • Two volunteer firefighters are charged with sexual assault and "slave trafficking"
  • The alleged victim says the acts began when he couldn't pay money owed to one of the men

(CNN) -- Two volunteer firefighters are accused of forcing a boy into sexual slavery that lasted for years, according to the Vermont State Police Department.

Brett Bartolotta, 42, a former volunteer with the West Haven, Connecticut, fire department, and Frank Meyer, 39, an active volunteer with the same department, have been charged with aggravated sexual assault and what Vermont law categorizes as "slave trafficking -- life of prostitution." The men were charged in Vermont because most of the alleged crimes occurred in Bartolotta's Vermont home, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors.

The alleged relationship began when the victim was 12 years old, and continued until he was past the age of consent, according to the affidavit by Trooper Daniel Trottier of the Vermont State Police.

The affidavit states the victim told Trottier that he purchased a dirt bike from Bartolotta in 2001, and subsequently he was forced to participate in sexual acts, including bondage, after he was unable to make sufficient payments on the purchase.

The alleged victim was introduced to Meyer, who was a friend of Bartolotta's, about a year later, according to affidavit. The three allegedly engaged in sexual activity up until 2012, the affidavit says

The allegations came to light because the alleged victim, now in his 20s, told his mother and she reported it to authorities. The man subsequently agreed to go to a police station and meet with a state trooper.

Trooper Trottier stated in the affidavit that the alleged victim said he had never told anyone about the situation while it was ongoing because he enjoyed receiving money and other forms of payment that provided him "a particular lifestyle."

Both men were arraigned in the Windsor County Court of Vermont on Thursday and posted bail later that night, $50,000 for Bartolotta and $100,000 for Meyer, who does not live in Vermont. The men are in the process of hiring private attorneys, prosecutors said Friday.

The state's attorneys office said a court appearance for the men will be scheduled later this month but no exact date has been set.

There were no indications of any link between the alleged victim and the fire department other than the defendants' relationships with that department.

Meyer was immediately placed on administrative leave, according to West Haven Chief James P. O'Brien. The chief added that Bartollota has not been active with the department for a couple of years.

"It's really shocking," O'Brien told CNN Friday. "We're very surprised about the allegations."

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