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Man accused of misrepresenting health claims in sex case

June 30, 2021 GMT

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A former New York police detective who awaits trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a girl at his vacation home in Vermont in the 1980s has now been accused of misrepresenting claims of poor health and his inability to travel to Vermont.

Leonard Forte, 79, was charged with felony sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl in Vermont in 1987. He was convicted in 1988 but a judge ordered a new trial the next year, saying the prosecutor had been too emotional.

The case was held up after Forte, who now lives in LaBelle, Florida, said a terminal illness prevented him from traveling. He’s been appearing at hearings by phone for many years.

A judge released an order last year specifying deadlines for the case, including to be ready for a trial.

Prosecutors have said they don’t believe Forte is being honest about his health because of reports that he and his wife own multiple boats and have taken several extended trips, including to New York.

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“Investigators determined that Forte misrepresented his health claims and his inability to travel to Vermont. Based on these allegations, Forte will be charged with two counts of obstruction of justice,” a violation, a police news release said Wednesday.

Forte is scheduled to be arraigned on July 7 in Bennington. His attorney, Susan McManus, said in an email Wednesday afternoon that she hasn’t seen the paperwork on the allegations because it had not yet been filed with the court.