– The Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Vt. – A Vermont man was convicted Monday of feeding a drug-laced blueberry smoothie to a 13-year-old girl and molesting her while she slept it off.

A jury deliberated for about 3½ hours before finding Robert J. Kolibas guilty of one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and two counts of aggravated assault.

Prosecutors say the girl, a friend of Kolibas’ daughter, drank a smoothie laced with the sedative diazepam and sleeping aid Ambien before falling asleep at Kolibas’ home in Williston last May.

She testified that she awoke several times to find Kolibas touching her breasts and genitals but that she was too woozy to fend him off.

“Unfortunately, every parent who’s heard or read about this story will pause the next time they let their child sleep over at a friend’s house without truly knowing the character of the other parent,” Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan said after the verdict was returned. “What was once a simple harmless act and a right of any middle schooler in Vermont really has turned into something else because of this case. And that’s unfortunate,” Donovan said. “There’s a loss of innocence.”

Kolibas, a 51-year-old father of four who said the drink was intended for his wife after they had argued, denied molesting the girl.

He could get 25 years in prison — 15 for the sex charge, five each for the aggravated assaults. No sentencing date was set.

Testifying in his defense, Kolibas said Friday that he heard noises coming from the room where the girl was sleeping and went in to find her touching herself and moaning.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

“your verdict, you can stop him from ever harming another child again,” prosecutor Susan Hardin told the jury in her closing statement. “And you can stop him from ever asking that question anymore: ‘Can I make you a smoothie?’ “

Prosecutors say Kolibas may have drugged girls previously under similar circumstances. Six teenage girls testified last week that they had become drowsy after drinking smoothies he’d made at sleepovers in 2008 and 2009.

Defense attorney Margaret Jansch sought to undermine the 13-year-old’s testimony, saying the girl was under the effects of the drugs and may have misconstrued Kolibas’ actions.

But Hardin said the girl had no motive for alleging the assault if it wasn’t true and that her story never changed.

When confronted by the girl and her mother about the allegations, Kolibas denied ever being in the room with the girls but later acknowledged in a letter to his wife that he was, Hardin said.

In the letter, he said he went to the room to get the drink cups after the girls had fallen asleep and that he washed the cups and the blender he had used to mix the drinks to eliminate evidence, Hardin said.

Two days after the girl accused him of molesting her, he fled the state, intending to go to Canada but stopping in Topsfield, Maine, where he called police and was taken into custody.

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