A St. Albans teen accused of taking advantage of five teen girls who attend BFA St. Albans and Missisquoi Valley Union High School is asking the judge in the case to move the hearing to Family court where the proceedings would be secret and closed to the public.

Friends and family walk with Aiden Pickener (head covered with sweatshirt) outside the courthouse on Tuesday after his court hearing.
Aiden Pickener walks with his head obscured by a sweatshirt to his vehicle flanked by friends and family at his side for support.

In most cases when the defendant is under the age of 18, the case would be held in Family Court, but the prosecution decided to bring the charges in Criminal court because of the heinous nature of the allegations.

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 The change in venue would not just make the hearing secretive, but would also make any potential convictions become obsolete and completely wiped off his record when he turns 18.

Aiden Pickener via Facebook
Aiden Pickener via Facebook

The 17-year-old, Aiden Pickener, is accused of 13 sex-related crimes with five different victims. Those charges range from lewd and lascivious conduct to sexual assault.

The allegations date back as far as August of 2014.

Of course, Pickener is innocent until proven guilty, but if he is convicted he faces 3 years to life on the sexual assault charge as well as up to a $25,000 fine. He also faces up to 5 years and up to $300 in fines for each of the other 12 charges. That’s if the judge rules that the case should stay in Criminal Court instead of moving to family court.

If Judge Gregory Rainville decided that the case would be better suited for family court, any sentences and treatment ordered by the court would be rendered null and void the day Pickener turns 18.

The prosecution and defense agreed on Tuesday to proceed with evidence and arguments in the case under seal until the judge makes his decision. That means that the Prosecution’s witness, who is a medical professional that has interviewed Pickener, will be deposed and arguments will be filed in paper form between the two parties.

Aiden Pickener listens to Judge Gregory Rainville in Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Aiden Pickener listens to Judge Gregory Rainville in Criminal Court on Tuesday.

Several of the victims sat in the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon as the two sides argued how they’d like to move forward. The Courier has a policy not to identify victims in sexual assault cases.

Pickener’s mother, Mary Pickener, spent much of the proceeding trying to shield her son’s face from the media.

Judge Rainville said that he expects to be able to make a ruling on how the case will proceed by the end of January.