Schenectady County

Child molestation trial jurors hear graphic details of Schenectady assault

Jurors heard graphic descriptions of child molestation in the opening of Harold Vandebogart’s trial

Jurors heard graphic descriptions of child molestation in the opening of Harold Vandebogart’s trial Monday.

Vandebogart, 31, of Schenectady, is accused of sexually abusing a 3-year-old and a 12-year-old last year. He is also accused of taking photos while abusing the 3-year-old and sending those photos to a woman in a bizarre series of events last November.

Prosecutor Jessica Lorusso told jurors that Vandebogart tried to have sex with an adult woman but couldn’t complete the act. He explained that the problem wasn’t him, but her — she was too old.

“He tells her he can’t ‘get off’ because she’s an adult,” Lorusso said.

After the woman made an excuse to get him to leave, he sent her a series of texts stating that he preferred to have sex with children and wanted to father a child with her so that he could have sex with the child whenever he wanted. When she questioned him, he sent her photos of himself appearing to sexually abuse a 3-year-old girl, Lorusso said.

The woman who received the texts immediately called police, who located Vandebogart several hours later. They also had her respond to Vandebogart’s texts so that he wouldn’t get suspicious, Lorusso said.

Vandebogart is charged with three counts of predatory sexual assault against a child.

She described three photos that will be introduced into evidence that show him penetrating the 3-year-old victim, as well as several other photos of the victim, taken before and after. The victim did not suffer long-term physical injuries.

Schenectady detectives showed the photos to the family with whom Vandebogart was living when he was arrested. Family members identified the child as a girl that they babysat regularly while the girl’s parents worked.

The family also broached the topic with children who lived in the house, and a 12-year-old girl said Vandebogart raped her last summer, Lorusso said.

The police did not find photos involving the 12-year-old. She will testify, Lorusso said.

Data embedded in the electronic code for the photos of the 3-year-old showed that it was taken by a particular type of Blackberry phone, Lorusso said. Vandebogart had that phone in his possession when he was arrested and admitted that it was his, she said.

The embedded data also showed that the photos were taken Nov. 8, 2010, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The two adult family members tasked with babysitting the victim said they had left the girl with Vandebogart that morning because they both had a doctor’s appointment, Lorusso said.

Police also located the mattress pictured in the photos, she said.

Vandebogart’s attorney, Kent Gebert, waived his right to an opening statement.

Lorusso said the jury would see the DVD recording of Vandebogart’s interrogation at police headquarters.

She said Vandebogart first denied having sent any child pornography. When confronted with the evidence, he said he simply downloaded the photos from a website. When detectives said the photos were clearly taken with his Blackberry, he said he took pictures of his computer monitor after downloading the photos, Lorusso said.

Vandebogart faces up to life in prison if he is found guilty on the charges, 36 counts ranging from predatory sexual assault to producing child pornography.

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