Two Men Charged With Abuse of Vt. Boy
Brett Bartolotta, left, and Frank Meyer
Ludlow, Vt. — For about a dozen years, beginning when he was 12, a Windsor County boy was treated as a sex “slave” by a Connecticut fire captain and a former firefighter, Vermont police said.
Court documents used to arrest the men included explicit details from the accuser. He told police how, as a adolescent, he was subtly lured into a sexual relationship with one of the men and how it progressed from a single sex act to a long-term arrangement that included bondage, another man and, eventually, other young people. In the end, he said, there had been hundreds of incidences.
The victim, now 25, said he never told anyone about the arrangement because “he was being provided money and other forms of payment … and he enjoyed getting these payments and living a particular lifestyle,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Frank Meyer, 39, of West Haven, Conn., and Brett Bartolotta, 42, of Cavendish, Vt., were arrested Wednesday and arraigned Thursday in Windsor County Superior Court in White River Junction. They are charged with aggravated sexual assault and slave trafficking, police said.
Meyer identifies himself in court documents as a police/fire dispatcher for the city of West Haven. He also is a captain with the Center Fire District and an adviser to the volunteer department’s Explorer Post, a program for young people, said Fire Chief James O’Brien. Meyer has been placed on administrative leave, O’Brien said. City officials didn’t return calls about Meyer’s status as a dispatcher.
Bartolotta, who lives in Vermont, is no longer a member of the volunteer fire department, O’Brien said.
“It just seems surreal. It just doesn’t seem possible,” O’Brien said of the arrests. “I think it took everyone by surprise.”
Although the arrests stem from the accusations of one complainant, Meyer also is accused of bringing adolescents from Connecticut to Vermont, the court document states. Bartolotta admitted that some of the sex — “bondage scenarios” — involved “an unknown female in CT,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Ansonia-Milford, Conn., State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor would not confirm that there is a related investigation in Connecticut.
The victim went to Vermont police in February and reported that he had been assaulted repeatedly by the men from the time he was 12 and continuing into 2012, police said. The victim estimated he had 300 to 400 sexual encounters with Meyer when he was between the ages of 12 and 16, according to court documents. He had “easily” twice as many with Bartolotta, he told police.
According to an affidavit, the victim met Bartolotta in the summer of 2000 or 2001 while riding dirt bikes at his friend’s house in Ludlow, Vt. Bartolotta, his friend’s neighbor, introduced himself and told him he heard he was a good rider and asked if he wanted to be part of his racing team.
Some time passed, and Bartolotta offered to sell the victim a dirt bike. The victim made weekly payments, the affidavit said. Then, the winter after he bought the dirt bike, the victim went to Bartolotta’s condo to tell him he was sorry he didn’t have the money for his weekly payment, the affidavit states. The victim told police he felt bad because “he had become good friends with Bartolotta and Bartolotta had become somewhat of a father figure to him.” The victim said his father had died years earlier.
Bartolotta rubbed the boy’s back and showed him a picture of himself with naked girls, the document states. He told him he could make a lot of money if he participated in orgies like the ones Bartolotta attended, the affidavit states.
The victim said that at that meeting he told Bartolotta that because of his age, he didn’t have any sexual experience, and Bartolotta offered to teach him. He then performed a sex act on the boy, after which Bartolotta paid him $100, the affidavit states.
The sex continued until Bartolotta told the victim he had finally paid off the debt for the dirt bike, had the boy sign a bill of sale and gave him the bike, the affadavit says. Two weeks later, the bike was stolen.
“In hindsight, he believed that Bartolotta stole the bike in order to get him to start visiting again,” the affidavit states.
The visits continued and so did the flow of money and goods in exchange for sex acts, which gradually transitioned from conventional sex to bondage and more, the affidavit said.
About a year afterward, Bartolotta introduced the boy to his friend from Connecticut, Frank Meyer, and the pair established a similar arrangement, the affidavit says.
When the boy started racing dirt bikes, both Bartolotta and Meyer would have him spend Friday nights with them and have sex with them before he left for the races on Saturday mornings, the affidavit states.
Meyers brought adolescents from Connecticut to Vermont and once asked the boy to perform sex acts on a teen-ager he didn’t know, it states. The victim “advised that he did not like this and made up an excuse as to why he could not perform sexually.”
When the victim met with police, he signed into his Facebook page and showed the investigator more than 2,000 messages between him and Barolotta and more than 2,000 between him and Meyer, all from last year. In one, Meyer told him to “shave and look young and boyish,” the affidavit states.
Meyer also offered to pay for a new hunting bow in exchange for sex and provide money for a new dirt bike, it states.
Earlier this week, on Wednesday night, police had the victim surreptitiously record Meyer while they met in a Ludlow restaurant, the affidavit states.
During the meeting, the victim asked Meyer if they were going to meet where they used to meet 10 or 11 years earlier — when he was 14 or 15. Meyer agreed, it states. He also asked him if he remembered when Meyer and Bartolotta used to “tag team” him back at the condo, and Meyer replied “Uh huh,” the affidavit states.
Meyer was arrested at the end of the meeting. Police then searched Bartolotta’s home, seizing computers and a tool box that contained items the victim had described in his interview, the affidavit states. Bartolotta was arrested.
When police questioned Bartolotta, he eventually admitted he had a long-term sexual arrangement with the victim, according to the affidavit. He admitted he “likely” knew the victim was 12 or 13. He also told investigators he watched Meyer and the victim have sex.
O’Brien, the fire chief, said fire department members are shocked about the arrests.
“These two guys … I’d be surprised if they had a traffic ticket,” O’Brien said. Both have a “spotless record of community service.”
Courant staff writers Dave Altimari and Kelly Glista and Valley News staff writer Mark Davis contributed to this report.