Windsor County Counselor Cited Into Court on Charge He Sexually Assaulted Juvenile Patient

  • Ronald Treem leaves the courtroom with his attorney, Audrey Smith, after pleading not guilty in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Monday, March 26, 2018, to charges that he sexually assaulted a juvenile patient. Treem has offices in both White River Junction and Springfield, Vt. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, March 26, 2018

White River Junction— A mental health and substance abuse counselor who has two offices in the Upper Valley pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges he sexually assaulted a juvenile patient during therapy sessions in 2016.

Ronald S. Treem, 69, of Chester, Vt., was arraigned in Windsor Superior Court on 10 felony charges, including repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual assault of a victim under the age of 16, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and sexual exploitation of a minor. He was released on conditions following Monday’s hearing.

Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney Heidi Remick pushed to have Treem held without bail, saying he faces an offense that is punishable by up to life in prison and that “evidence of guilt is great” in the case.

She called the allegations “extremely disturbing” — “not only because of the age difference between (the victim) and the defendant, but because of the abuse of authority.”

Treem owns Kime Associates, which provides mental health and substance abuse counseling services in Springfield, Vt., and White River Junction. According to the affidavit, the girl would have been 15 when Treem allegedly assaulted her at his Springfield office.

Audrey Smith, who represented Treem on Monday, argued that Treem could be released because he isn’t a flight risk and has no criminal record.

Windsor Superior Court Judge Timothy Tomasi released Treem on a $25,000 bond into the custody of his ex-wife, Linda Eastman.

As conditions of his release, he must live with Eastman; remain subject to a curfew restriction; may not have contact with minors, with the exception of supervised contact with his grandson; and must not provide counseling to girls or women.

During Treem’s arraignment, Remick said she has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation to make state officials aware of the criminal charges.

As of Monday evening, Treem remained listed as a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor by the state of Vermont.

As of Monday afternoon, his name had been removed from a listing of outpatient services on Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s website, where Kime Associates had been listed as a licensed clinical mental health counselor serving the area.

Treem is “well known” in the Upper Valley, Smith said in court.

In addition to his counseling work, Treem has been involved with martial arts and was previously the chief instructor at White River Junction Budokan, a karate school he once owned, according to a 2013 Valley News article. On Monday, his name was removed from the roster of instructors on the school’s website.

The case began to unfold earlier this month when the girl told her mother about the alleged abuse, prompting her mother to go to Springfield police on March 16.

During an interview with investigators, the girl said she had been in counseling with Treem since she was 12 due to suicidal tendencies, self-harm, anxiety, depression and trauma from past sexual abuse, according to an affidavit filed in the White River Junction courthouse.

On March 20, the girl participated in an extensive forensic interview, and told the interviewer that Treem has expressed sexual interest in her since the beginning of their counseling sessions.

The physical abuse began after Treem asked her to wear dresses with no underwear to their counseling sessions when she was 15 years old, according to the affidavit. The two sat across from each other in his office, and on certain occasions, Treem would ask her to masturbate, or he would rub her vagina over her clothes, according to the affidavit.

On at least three occasions, he penetrated her digitally, the girl said, according to the affidavit.

Although she said she knew the behavior was wrong, she let him touch her anyway, the affidavit states.

The girl eventually told two friends about the situation, and they encouraged her to tell her parents.

Their encouragement resulted in her “blurting” the alleged abuse out to her mother earlier this month, the affidavit states.

In an interview on March 22, the girl’s father told police that a few months ago his daughter said she no longer wanted to attend counseling appointments with Treem, who also has provided therapy to some of the girl’s relatives. She didn’t elaborate though, he said.

Police allege that during a 2½-hour interview, Treem initially denied any wrongdoing but later acknowledged that he touched the girl sexually, an act he called “consensual.” Among other acts, Treem “agreed” that he had penetrated the girl digitally on at least one occasion, according to the affidavit.

Treem told police that the girl would state that she felt relaxed after the sexual touching and that, “in his mind, he was thinking that this was a form of sex therapy because she is relaxing,” the affidavit states.

He said he didn’t force the girl to participate, and he got no sexual gratification because he has erectile dysfunction “and is impotent,” according to the affidavit.

Treem is charged with one count of repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child, and three counts each of sexual assault of a victim under the age of 16, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and sexual exploitation of a minor.

Asked for comment after his hearing, Treem described the charges as “expansive” and maintained his innocence.

“I didn’t do it,” Treem told a reporter in the courthouse lobby.

He referred additional questions to his attorney, which going forward will be Peter Decato, of Lebanon. A message left for Decato wasn’t returned by deadline.

Treem is scheduled to appear in court next on May 8.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.