ST. ALBANS — A woman has reported that Zachary Pigeon, 29, of St. Albans, a St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD) officer, sexually assaulted her as a child. He was a teenager at the time.
After other members of the family, whom she had told of the assault, mentioned having information about him to another SAPD officer, she alleges he and his father, Allen Pigeon, 56, of Swanton, broke into her home, pulled her from a couch where she was sleeping, assaulted and threatened her.
Both men have denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to all charges in court on Monday.
The Messenger does not reveal the names of sexual assault victims and will strive to avoid including any details which might reveal the victim’s identity. She will be referred to in this report by the initials AA.
AA told police the assaults began when she was in the fourth grade and continued until the eighth grade, when she moved and was no longer living where Zachary could assault her. She said he threatened to assault her younger sister if she resisted him, and that he would hold a box cutter to her throat, nipples or another vulnerable part of her body to degrade her if she tried to refuse.
The assaults included oral and vaginal penetration, AA reported.
In the years since, she has struggled with substance use, using alcohol to “blur it out,” according to an affidavit submitted by Det. Sgt. Clark Lombardi of the Vermont State Police (VSP).
AA said she told her mother, who didn’t believe her, but was afraid to tell her father because she didn’t want him to go to jail for killing Zachary. “I wish I could have,” Lombardi reports AA saying of killing Zachary. “I know it sounds horrible. I wish I could do it myself.”
Eventually, AA told her sister about what had happened.
When the sister and her boyfriend were stopped by Zachary in his role with the SAPD in February. AA’s sister told VSP investigators that she told another officer who was with Zachary that he had assaulted her sister. Her boyfriend said he told Zachary he had “heard a lot of things about him,” Lombardi wrote.
When interviewed by police, Zachary said the boyfriend told him AA had “bashed him.”
According to AA, two men she identified as Zachary and his father Allen Pigeon entered her home the first weekend in April, dragged her from the couch where she was sleeping, threw her down some stairs and off her porch, then pulled her back up it and again threw her down again, this time off a section of porch with no stairs, before burning her back with a cigar.
During the assault, she said the two men told her that “if she said anything more, or tried to get them in any more trouble, she’d be dead or she’d be wishing she was worse than dead.”
There were scars on AA’s back consistent with burns from a cigar when she was interviewed by police. Two others told police they had seen the burns within days of the incident.
AA also said she had been handcuffed by the two men.
Prior to the assault, she said she had received a voicemail from Allen Pigeon threatening to slit her throat. AA said she deleted the voicemail.
Although both assailants wore masks, AA said she recognized their voices and Zachary’s eyes. “After staring at them for four years on top of you, you know someone’s eyes,” she told police.
AA said the she later found the tip of the cigar in her yard and had tossed it into a fire pit where she also disposes of cigarette butts and yard waste. Investigators found the cigar tip in the fire pit. It was the only one found on the property.
Both Zachary and Allen denied the allegations when questioned by police.
Zachary did admit to asking AA for an explicit photo, which she never provided, as well as following her when he was on patrol and spotted her car. He also claimed the two had consensual sex in 2018.
He told police he was with his girlfriend on the weekend the two men reportedly broke into AA’s house and that they did not go anywhere.
The VSP first learned of the alleged assaults on AA from her father on Friday, when he called the St. Albans Barracks. Later that same afternoon, AA was in a single car accident and arrested for driving under the influence. Police asked her about the information they had received from her father.
Interviews with several other witnesses and both Pigeons followed, culminating in the arrests of Zachary and Allen on Sunday.
Both men were arraigned in Chittenden County Superior Court on Monday after being held overnight.
Judge A. Gregory Rainville released both men on conditions, including a 24-hour curfew. Zachary is represented by Mark Kaplan and Allen by Francis Twarog.
Both men were charged with simple assault, kidnapping, obstructing justice, unlawful restraint in the second degree, and burglary for allegedly entering AA’s home with the intent of assaulting her. If convicted, they could each be sentenced to life in prison.
No sexual assault charges were filed on Monday.
SAPD Chief Gary Taylor said Zachary was hired by the SAPD on April 1, 2019.
He originally applied in 2018, but because he had shown poor judgement in some communications with his ex-wife during their divorce, Taylor declined to hire him, telling him to come back in a year and if there were no new examples of bad judgement, Taylor would reconsider.
Zachary waited the year, reapplied and was hired.
Zachary grew up in Franklin County, graduating from Missisquoi Valley Union high school. He joined the Marines and served two tours overseas. Prior to joining the SAPD, he served as a sheriff’s deputy in South Carolina for a year and a half.
Taylor described him as “very, very quiet. He kept to himself.”
“There was an extensive background investigation and polygraph,” said Taylor. “There were no shortcuts here.”
Zachary also applied to the Colchester Police Dept. (CPD) and the Vermont State Police in 2018. CPD also conducted a background investigation, which they shared with the SAPD. A second background check was done when Zachary reapplied in 2019, according to Taylor.
“There was nothing that would have suggested anything like what we’re seeing right now,” Taylor said of the background checks. “I would have thought this would’ve come up during the background check or polygraph test. There was absolutely nothing to even hint at anything like this.”
It is not uncommon for victims of childhood sexual abuse and assault to remain for silent for years, even decades.
The SAPD has placed Zachary on administrative leave and launched an internal investigation. The criminal investigation will remain in the hands of the state police.
“We [will] turn over every rock that’s available to us,” Taylor said.