Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General’s Office Takes Lead in Prosecution of State V. Forte

January 10, 2020

CONTACT:    Charity Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

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Attorney General Donovan today announced his office will take the lead in the prosecution of Leonard Forte of LaBelle, Florida. Mr. Forte is accused of felony sexual assault, and his trial has been delayed for more than 25 years. Assistant Attorney General Linda Purdy of the Office’s Criminal Division will lead the litigation team comprised of former Vermont Attorney General and Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Amestoy and Former Vermont Deputy Attorney General and Vermont Supreme Court Associate Justice Brian Burgess, who Attorney General Donovan has appointed as Special Assistant Attorneys General. Charges against Mr. Forte were brought in 1987 by the Bennington County State’s Attorney. As Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General respectively, Amestoy and Burgess led the State’s initial effort to end delay and reinstate Mr. Forte’s previous conviction. The team will work collaboratively with the Vermont Department of State’s Attorneys, who previously handled the case.

“Justice has been delayed for far too long in this case,” said Attorney General Donovan. “The State of Vermont is committed to seeking justice for the victim and bringing Mr. Forte to trial. The time is now.”

On January 13, the Attorney General’s Office will represent the State in a status conference before the Vermont Superior Court in Bennington County. The State is preparing for trial.

The Attorney General’s Office reminds the public that a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Last modified: January 10, 2020