Officer charged with soliciting prostitute in Shelburne

A veteran rescue squad member and part-time police officer in central Vermont is facing charges of soliciting prostitution and obstruction of justice in Shelburne, officials said Monday.

Lynn Doney, 57, who also is a Northfield Selectboard member, is due in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington for arraignment today on the two criminal charges, Shelburne police said.

Shelburne police said the arrest stems from a complaint at Harbor Place on U.S. 7, which is a motel serving low-income individuals and operated by the Burlington-based nonprofit Champlain Housing Trust.

The investigation began after management at Harbor Place called police to report there was suspicious activity in one of the motel rooms recently, Police Chief Aaron Noble said.

Shelburne Officer Bob Lake located a man who acknowledged he had been paid to perform sexual acts, police said. The investigation determined the sex acts had happened in both Shelburne and Barre, according to police.

The investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible, officials said.

The story was first reported by the Shelburne News online on Monday.

Shelburne and Barre City police and the Washington County Special Investigations Unit collaborated on possible leads in the case, which led to Doney’s arrest last Friday evening, officials said.

The obstruction of justice charge alleges that Doney, as a law enforcement officer, knew there was an outstanding arrest warrant for the adult male prostitute, but did not arrest him, Shelburne police said.

Police said the warrant for the prostitute has been resolved. The man also was referred to get assistance from the new Shelburne Community Outreach Service Office operated through the Howard Center, police said.

Doney did not respond to an email seeking comment for this report.

Well-known official
Doney is well-known in Central Vermont through his work as an EMT, police officer, union delegate, court officer in Barre, and as a selectboard member in Northfield.

He was placed on administrative leave Monday in Barre Town for both his rescue and police jobs, Municipal Manager Carl Rogers said.

Doney works full-time for Barre Town Emergency Medical Services and for about 10 years for the Barre Town Police Department as a part-time officer providing security for auto races at Thunder Road. The town paid him $99,115 for the fiscal year ending last June 30, the annual town report noted. His base salary for Barre EMT was $56,920 with the rest overtime.

Rogers said he, along with Barre EMS Director Chris LaMonda and Police Chief William Dodge, met with Doney on Monday afternoon and placed him on leave. He will be on paid time off from his full-time job, but unpaid from his part-time post, Rogers said.

Rogers said Doney also was directed not to visit the three emergency medical services stations operated by Barre Town.  Barre Town, a community of 7,600, has 13 fulltime EMTs on its payroll and 24 others that are per diem.

Doney was notified he was entitled to have an administrative hearing next week before the manager.
He also is a member of the Barre Town Association of EMTs Local 3702 and is its delegate to the Vermont Professional Firefighters Association union, according to the website.

Washington County Sheriff Sam Hill said he placed Doney on unpaid administrative leave on Saturday after learning about the arrest.  Hill, who has been sheriff for about 14 years, said Doney has worked as a part-time deputy for about 28 years – as both a court security officer and handling traffic control at road construction sites, Hill said.

The sheriff said Doney has been directed to refrain from any law enforcement work and Hill added his office has been instructed not to call Doney to fill any special work assignments.

Doney also has been a Northfield Selectboard member for about a half-dozen years.  Town Manager Jeff Schulz said Monday he had just heard of the arrest and that Doney was still listed as a board member.

Investigation unfolds
Lake, who also is Shelburne’s health officer, and Shelburne Police Officer Josh Flore worked on the investigation the past two weeks with help from Barre City Police Detectives Joel Pierce and James

Pointbriand.Investigators also consulted with both the Chittenden and Washington County state’s attorney’s offices.

Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault said in a prepared statement he was in regular contact with Hill, the sheriff, and Dodge, the police chief, as the investigation progressed.

Thibault said he does not expect any pending investigations to be impacted by the prosecution. Doney is not the investigating officer in any known criminal cases being prosecuted in Washington County.

Thibault also said neither of the criminal charges Doney is facing occured in Washington County.

Moving forward
Noble said prostitution is not a victimless crime. “It is often linked to exploitation, drug abuse, and human trafficking,” he said in a news release.

“The Shelburne Police Department intends to continue its work with the community, including local hotels, to combat prostitution and related crimes,” Noble said.

On Tuesday, the Champlain Housing Trust urged mebers of the news media to stay away from the motel following disclosure of the arrest. Officials from the housing provider issued a news release saying that guests need privacy and the staff must focus on operations.

The police investigation was done with what the housing trust said was the “full cooperation” of the Harbor Place staff.

In the news release, Chris Donnelly, community relations director for the housing trust, said: “We applaud the work of the law enforcement agencies that are working on this case, and we will continue to cooperate as needed.”

Police said services are available to those needing help getting out of prostitution. Rapid Response Support Service at 316-1003 or by dialing 211 or contacting police or a health care provider.

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