Groton motel room-mate sentenced in overdose death of Olivia Roark
Hartford — U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson ordered four years of incarceration Tuesday for the woman who set up 17-year-old Olivia Roark of Griswold as a prostitute and provided her with the heroin/fentanyl that caused the teen's overdose death in May 2016.
Adele K. Bouthillier, 43, of Groton, who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor and possession with intent to distribute heroin, could have received life in prison for the offenses. But under federal sentencing guidelines, which take into consideration the seriousness of the offense, the life and criminal history of the defendant, the need for deterrence and public safety, and other factors, she was exposed to nine to 11 years of prison.
Thompson began his explanation of the downward departure by saying, "First there is no sentence that would be sufficient in length and severity to address the pain and loss of the victim's family.
Bouthillier, a heavyset woman with fuschia streaks dyed into her shoulder length hair, was led into the courtroom wearing a prison-issued t-shirt and gray sweat pants. She said she had not even known Olivia long enough to know her last name, that she had been lied to about the teen's age and that she is not the kind of person who hurts people.
"I am very sorry that all this happened," she said. "Olivia and my daughter were about the same age. I would have never brought a child into that at all. My daughter didn't know I did drugs, nor that I was a prostitute."
The teen had been having trouble at home and had run away days before first responders found her unresponsive in Room 106 of the Flagship Motel in Groton on May 29, 2016. According to court statements and documents from the investigation, 40-year-old Ramon "B.I." Gomez, who knew Roark was under 18, arranged for her to engage in prostitution and stay with Bouthillier and another woman, Melissa Crickmore. Bouthillier helped the teen advertise her services on backpage.com.
Bouthillier told investigators that she bought a gram of heroin from Gomez on the morning of May 28 and used it with the teenager. She said she awoke at 10 p.m. to find Roark unresponsive with vomit coming out of her mouth. She didn't call 911 until 2:36 a.m. on May 29, according to a police affidavit.
Gomez has also pleaded guilty and is incarcerated while awaiting sentencing. He faces 12.5 to 15.6 years in prison under the federal guidelines.
Roark's parents, Robert and Sherry Roark, who have since moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., have been following closely the cases of the two adults their daughter had turned to in the last days of her life, but said they could not handle going to the sentencing hearing in Hartford. James Spellman Jr. of Groton, who has maintained contact with Bob Roark since Spellman taught and coached Roark years ago at Robert E. Fitch Senior High School, spoke on behalf of the family Tuesday, saying they had been sentenced to a lifetime of pain and suffering.
Reached by phone later, the father said the four-year sentence, which will be followed by five years of supervised release, was "a total embarrassment to the judicial system in the State of Connecticut and throughout the country."
"I think it's totally absurd," Bob Roark said. "She's totally and absolutely responsible for the death of my daughter. By letting her lay in trouble for four hours, because they were so concerned about wiping clean the backpage ad before they called 911, is totally absurd."
Prosecutor Douglas P. Morabito had called for a sentence above the federal guidelines, citing the seriousness of the offenses.
In explaining the sentence he was imposing, Judge Thompson said that increases to the calculated guideline in Bouthillier's case because it involved sexual conduct and the use of a computer did apply, but were "not in the heartland," or didn't really fit, in her case. He cited the need to apply a sentence comparable to those imposed in other cases where someone had died. He said he looked at other cases in which there had been no intention of a deadly result while also taking into consideration the sexual exploitation of a minor.
The judge also said that even if Bouthillier believed Roark was 18, she still knew she was young. The judge said he had read the backpage ad — in which the teen was identified as "Baby Girl" and was "young and beautiful and new to town" — and noted that Bouthillier had been told by Gomez that she needed to "show the ropes" to the teen.
"Had you reacted appropriately, there would have been no deadly result," Thompson said.
Connecticut College librarian Mark Matthew Braunstein, who spent years studying the lives of prostitutes in eastern Connecticut, wrote in his recently published book, "Good Girls on Bad Drugs," that Bouthillier, a lifelong heroin addict, had advertised herself as a 34-year-old in an ad headlined, "Thick, curvy, sexy Lettie the Pinup Princess." In the two months prior to Olivia Roark's death, Braunstein wrote that three other girls had drifted through the same or adjoining rooms to Bouthillier's room at the Flagship while sharing the same phone number on backpage ads.
Bouthillier's attorney, Tracy Hayes, said Bouthillier told him that one of the girls who shared a room with her prior to Roark's death was a 20-year-old named "Annie," and that after Annie started using drugs, Bouthillier called the young woman's mother and told her to come and get her. Hayes said he did everything he could to locate Annie, but couldn't find her, though he did find evidence that Bouthillier had been in phone contact with the mother.
Old Mystic Fire Chief Kenneth Richards Jr., who recently worked with the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association to call on lawmakers and government officials for immediate action on the opioid epidemic, attended the court hearing to speak on behalf of first responders. The Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department had responded to Roark's overdose, administering two doses of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and transporting her to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, where she was declared dead.
Richards said he knew the crew who handled that call, and was speaking on behalf of the "family" of first responders who have been treating overdose patients. He said the heroin epidemic is running rampant and first responders need help.
"We have a war that we are fighting and we are boots on the ground," Richards told the judge. "I would ask you give us the help we need. We need to stop this epidemic."
While her case was pending, Bouthillier was released on bond to receive long-term inpatient substance-abuse treatment, according to court documents. On Feb. 8, she was discharged from a program at Trinity Glen in Kent, Conn., after misconduct stemming from an argument with another client, according to a court document.
"During dinner, Ms. Bouthillier admittedly took fruit from the client's tray, placed it into the toilet, and placed it back on a tray," says a Feb. 8 report by her probation officer.
Bouthillier was evaluated by Stamford psychiatrist Hassan Minhas, who diagnosed her with post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, stimulant use disorder and opioid use disorder. While on supervised release, the judge ordered Bouthillier to undergo mental health and substance abuse treatment at her own expense, if she is able to pay.
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