Quechee Man Sentenced to Five Years for Sexually Assaulting Girls; Victims’ Family: Keep Him Away

Shane Harlow listens to his sentence being read during his sentencing at the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Dec. 18. 2013. 
Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Shane Harlow listens to his sentence being read during his sentencing at the Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Dec. 18. 2013. Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

White River Junction — A Quechee man will spend the next five years in prison and undergo a sex offender treatment program after being sentenced Wednesday for sexually abusing two girls.

In Windsor Superior Court on Wednesday, 48-year-old Shane Harlow was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison, with all but five years suspended as long as he exhibits good behavior. As part of a plea agreement reached in September, Harlow also pleaded no contest to an unrelated misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of an accident after allegedly running over the body of a 24-year-old Dartmouth College graduate student in October 2012.

Wearing a gray sweat suit and shackled at the ankles and wrists, Harlow stared straight ahead as the mother and stepfather of his victims read statements before the court.

The mother said the abuse, which occurred in 2008 and 2012, had traumatized both her daughters. The younger one was severely emotionally scarred and fragile. The girl panics when her parents leave the house and needs constant reassurances of when they are coming home, the mother said.

“At a time in her life when she should be pushing us away to find her independence, she clings like a barnacle,” the mother said. “I can’t even go to the store. (The daughter) can’t be unsupervised. She has lost her freedom from us.”

Harlow’s sentence was “not nearly long enough,” the mother said, adding that while “he gets five years, the girls get a lifetime.”

The stepfather followed with a forceful statement. He described the damage done to the girls and told Harlow that he was “a pathetic excuse for a human being.” The stepfather implored Judge Karen Carroll to sentence Harlow for the maximum allowed under law.

“Please, your honor, keep him away from the rest of the little girls in the world for as long as you can,” he said.

But not all sex offender cases are alike, Carroll said, and Harlow’s lack of a prior criminal record and his cooperation with investigators needed to be considered in his sentence. Harlow admitted to police that he assaulted the girls after they came forward with the allegations in March, while Harlow was awaiting trial for the accident involving the Dartmouth student. His cooperation saved the girls the added trauma of having to testify in court, Carroll said. Both girls knew Harlow.

Neither child appeared in court Wednesday, and the only audience to Harlow’s formal sentencing were the girls’ parents and two grandparents. As a general practice, the Valley News does not identify the victims of sex crimes.

At one point, Harlow rose to give his own statement, acknowledging his crimes and his need to seek treatment. He said he understood the damage that his actions had caused.

“I know I’ve caused a great deal of pain, anguish and just upheaval,” Harlow said. “I do understand what my actions have done.”

As a condition of his sentence, Harlow must complete a treatment program for sex offenders and is not allowed to contact his victims or any minors without the approval of his probation officer. He is also forbidden from having romantic relationships with people who have children under the age of 16. A violation of his probation could land him in prison until he is 78 years old, said Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen.

“He is effectively on house arrest for most of the rest of his life,” Kainen said.

Nearly all of Harlow’s sentence is related to the sex crimes. His sentence for leaving the accident scene was 30 days. In that case, it was unclear whether the car Harlow was driving struck the body of the Dartmouth student, Mikhail Lomakin, before or after Lomakin died. Lomakin was found dead on Interstate 91 under mysterious circumstances.

Harlow’s attorney, Elizabeth Kruska, and the victims’ mother and stepfather declined to comment after the hearing. However, the grandfather had one thing to say about the sentence.

“It’s never enough,” he said.

Chris Fleisher can be reached at 603-727-3229 or cfleisher@vnews.com.