Vermont man admits to sexually assaulting elderly mother-in-law on her deathbed

A Vermont man accused of sexually assaulting his mother-in-law as she lay dying has pleaded guilty and must register as a sex offender, records show.

Stephen John Edwards, 71, of Burlington, faces two to five years in prison, according to WCAX in BurlingtonAccording to the Shelburne News, he was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a vulnerable adult last summer.

Court records obtained by both the newspaper and the news station allege Edwards was visiting the unnamed woman, who was in her 90s, on July 8 at Burlington Health and Rehab. A nurse who walked into the room to administer morphine to the dying patient found Edwards sexually abusing her.

"Mr. Edwards is charged with sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult stemming from an allegation that he placed his mouth on the breast of a woman that was residing in a rehab facility," Chittenden County Deputy State's Attorney Dana Disano told WCAX in September.

A police affidavit obtained by the news station said Edwards admitted to the woman's son that he kissed her breast, but he said he was saying goodbye and the act was not sexual. The affidavit stated that investigators had a recorded phone call in which Edwards admitted what he did, the News reported.

Edwards told police he was checking to see if the woman was breathing, the newspaper reported.

The woman, who was unable to communicate because of her medical condition, died days later, WCAX reported.

Credit: Google

Credit: Google

“I don’t want to speak for the family, but I am sure any case that involves these sort of allegations is tremendously painful for any family, Disano said at the time.

Following Edwards’ plea deal, Disano said family members she’d spoken with wanted a resolution in the case.

"This brings them some type of closure without having to go through the trial process," she told WCAX.

The sex abuse charge against Edwards, a coin dealer, was filed a month after he was charged with two misdemeanor counts of failing to maintain proper business records for his business, Vermont Coins and Jewelry. State police investigators alleged he had more than $235,000 worth of undocumented business transactions in August and September 2017, the News reported.

Edwards was caught up in an investigation into the sale of stolen jewelry, coins and other valuables taken in home and business burglaries, the newspaper said.

WCAX reported last month that Edwards pleaded guilty to failing to take proper theft-prevention measures at his store. He was sentenced to probation in that case.

Vermont Department of Corrections records show he is supervised by the Burlington Probation and Parole Office.

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