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Pat Liebrecht, a candidate for the Vermont House from Colchester, pleaded not guilty to “revenge porn.” (File photo)

 

A Colchester candidate for the Vermont House is denying a criminal charge under Vermont’s so-called revenge porn law.

Last Thursday, the Vermont Republican Party officially disavowed Pat Liebrecht, who was charged under the statute in late September, a police affidavit shows.

Passed in 2015, the statute outlaws the disclosure of sexually explicit images of adults without their consent.

Liebrecht, 57, ran unsuccessfully for Colchester’s 9-1 House district, which was held by incumbents Jim Condon (D) and Joey Purvis (R). Purvis was unseated on Tuesday by Democrat Curt Taylor. Liebrecht ran unopposed in the August primary.

Reached last week, Liebrecht was open about the ongoing criminal case, saying it involves a consensually taken photograph of his on-again, off-again ex-girlfriend of eight years that was posted to social media. They broke up in late July, he said.

Liebrecht said the photo in question “was one that could be in a public library in National Geographic.”

According to the affidavit, the photo depicted Liebrecht’s ex, topless, holding a glass of wine. It was taken with her consent years ago with the condition he keep them private, the document says.

Police say Liebrecht posted the photo on July 15 in a comment thread on his ex’s friend’s Facebook page, reposting when she removed it. The friend took screenshots to show police, the affidavit says.

The woman and Liebrecht had exchanged text messages earlier that day about money she owed him. She told police Liebrecht has threatened her over this, saying he’s running for office and “has his methods.” She also used Steps to End Domestic Violence services to help exit the relationship, the affidavit said.

Liebrecht told police he posted the picture because he was angry, the affidavit says.

Although Liebrecht was cited in September, after the primary, the VT GOP didn’t learn about the allegations until Thursday, party executive director Jeff Bartley said.

The press release called the allegations “deeply disturbing and disgusting.”

Without detailing the accusations, the statement goes on to say, “such actions do not reflect the values of the Vermont Republican Party. In fact, Republican and Democrat lawmakers supported legislation making it a criminal offense to engage in this type of abusive behavior.”

Liebrecht said neither he nor his attorney were familiar with the revenge porn law, which is likely to be tested in the Vermont Supreme Court: A Bennington judge recently threw out the first case brought under the law, Seven Days reported in August.

When asked whether he would have the supported the measure as a legislator, Liebrecht was non-committal.

“How can you really say that somebody’s doing something without your permission, because you just gave them permission to have that picture of you?” Liebrecht said, speaking generally about the law. “There’s a lot of legal issues with this, and that’s why it’s going to the Supreme Court.

“People have to be careful with [exes],” he continued. “Burn the pictures if you have them, because you could get in trouble for them.”

Bartley said the VT GOP needed to issue a statement on Liebrecht’s case as soon as possible.

“The party cannot support actions like this,” he said. “We strongly do not condone the actions.”

Liebrecht is upset Bartley condemned him without knowing all the facts.

“I pleaded not guilty to that, and [Jeff] has not discussed it with me or asked me a word about it,” he said.

Liebrecht said the party hasn’t endorsed his campaign, an assertion Bartley confirmed.

“He was always a long shot to be beat both Joey Purvis and Jim Condon. We didn’t invest in him,” Bartley said.

Liebrecht also said a VT GOP staffer asked him to remove his campaign Facebook page and website, www.pat4vt.com. He complied. Bartley refutes this, adding Liebrecht has “refused” to discuss the matter with him.

Liebrecht is a 32-year Colchester resident, small business owner and father of a 16-year-old daughter.

“That’s the thing that bothers me more than anything is I don’t want my daughter to be subjected to this,” he said.

Liebrecht added this development doesn’t affect his plans to seek political office, saying he wishes he could more pointedly address the allegations, but his attorney has advised him to not speak in detail about the charge. He lamented the case will conclude after the election.

Last updated on Nov. 9. 

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