Dog Team Tavern Burns to the Ground | Freyne Land
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Friday, September 1, 2006

Dog Team Tavern Burns to the Ground

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2006 at 12:26 PM

Just got the news from Channel 3 at noon.

Jessica Abo was live on the scene of the charred remains of the landmark Midddlebury restaurant The Dog Team Tavern.

She told viewers there had been reports of an explosion overnight. Only the chimney was still standing.

BUT the big question was: Where is the Dog Team's Owner Christopher Hesslink, 42, of Monkton?

Abo told Ch. 3 viewers his truck, with dogs inside, had been found parked in the back. However, no one's been able to find Mr. Hesslink.

We Googled and found this - are you sitting down?

From a recent edition of The Burlington Free Press:

Dog Team Tavern owner pleads no contest to sex charge

Published: Saturday, July 29, 2006
By John Briggs
Free Press Staff Writer

Christopher Hesslink, 42, of Monkton, the owner of the Dog Team Tavern in New Haven, pleaded no contest July 21 to a misdemeanor sex charge involving a former employee.

Hesslink was originally charged with sexual assault, a felony, but the Attorney General's Office, which prosecuted the case, unexpectedly reduced the charge to a single misdemeanor count of lewdness in return for Hesslink's plea. He was fined $100 and instructed by District Court Judge Matthew Katz to donate $1,000 to a community organization involved with sexual assault issues. A $15 "victim's restitution" charge was also imposed.

The girl who made the complaint said she was assaulted May 14, 2005. The Free Press does not identify victims in sexual assault cases.

She told state police that Hesslink assaulted her in the tavern's upstairs office at about 9:45 p.m. as she sat on the floor counting out the night's receipts, according to an affidavit. She said Hesslink pushed her to the floor, straddled her, and assaulted her. When she began screaming, she said, Hesslink "looked surprised at her face" and allowed her to leave, the affidavit said.

Hesslink denied to police that he had assaulted the girl, though he admitted earlier sexual contact with her that he described as consensual but which stopped short of intercourse.

Hesslink, speaking by phone from the Dog Team Tavern, said he was glad the case was over but was critical of prosecutors and the police investigation.

"They don't care what happens to people," he said. "I don't think they look objectively at a case. There was no physical evidence -- just the word of one person."

Robert Keiner, Hesslink's Middlebury attorney, said Hesslink's defense "all along, was that it didn't happen, period."

for the rest click here.

The plot thickens considerably.

Here's an Addison Independent update.

**************************************************************************************************

*UPDATE*

From an April 25, 2006 Valley Voice history story about the Dog Team by Dale Piper:

Ready for retirement, in November of 1987 the Joys sold the restaurant to Christopher Hesslink, who was then operating one of the Perry Group's restaurants, the Dakota Steakhouse in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  Ready for his own place, he came upon the Dog Team, not only a turnkey business with no problems to correct, but a prominent historic landmark as well.  “All I have done is maintain the quality and add some menu items,” said Hesslink.  One major change he did make, however, was the addition of catering services, which have been a great success.

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*** Just posted my first blog CORRECTION below in yesterday's "Last Day of August" item. At issue: just exactly what press attended Scudder Parker's presser? Appreciate Terri Hallenbeck over at the Freeps, the newspaper that had no one attend either Parker or the Guv's Thursday morning Montpelier pressers, for correcting us. It's the new age of journalism, folks. Right in front of our eyes!

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Bio:
Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

More by Peter Freyne

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