LEWISTON — A brief hearing Tuesday did not change the trajectory of the expected trial of three adults charged with providing booze and pot to at least three teenage girls, who then claimed they were sexually assaulted in a Mountainview Drive residence that became known as the "Lewiston Party House."
The defense team for Tricia Vacanti, Gary Sullo and Jessica Long told Lewiston Town Justice Hugh Gee that they had fulfilled or were about to fulfill their obligations under New York's new criminal justice reform law and they believed prosecutors had done the same.
Gee set a final pre-trial hearing for April 28 and a trial for May 19.
Niagara County prosecutors raised the stakes in January when they added a combined 30 new charges against Vacanti and Sullo in connection with the alcohol and drug-fueled teen parties alleged to have taken place at their home in 2017 and 2018.
Vacanti, 47, and Sullo, 53, were already facing a combined 19 counts of unlawfully dealing with a minor and endangering the welfare of a child. Prosecutors then leveled an additional 22 counts of endangering and unlawful dealing against Vacanti and another eight counts of the same charges against Sullo.
A friend of the family, Long, 39, continues to face single counts of unlawfully dealing with a minor and endangering the welfare of a child.
The cases against the adults are companions to a criminal indictment against Vacanti’s now 18-year-old son Christopher Belter. He pleaded guilty in late June to felony charges of third-degree rape and attempted first-degree sexual abuse and two misdemeanor charges of second-degree sexual abuse, in connection with encounters with four teenage girls during the parties.
Belter was placed on two years of interim probation during a sentencing hearing in August. Since he was accused of committing the crimes when he was 16 and was first charged when he was 17, Belter remains eligible to be sentenced as a youthful offender.
If Belter is sentenced as a youthful offender, the records of his case will be sealed and he will not have to register as a sex offender.
Belter faces a sentence of either eight years in prison or 10 years probation or a combination of the two depending on his behavior while he is on interim probation.