AUBURN, Mass. – The Massachusetts State Trooper from Auburn, who was indicted last week in a case involving the sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman four years ago, pleaded not guilty at a brief arraignment hearing on Friday morning at Worcester Superior Court.
Jason Willard, 38, of 19 Thayer Ave., Auburn, pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person more than 14 and two counts of open and gross lewdness. The judge granted him personal recognizance, and his next time in court for a pre-trial is Friday, Nov. 9.
According to Willard's defense attorney, Michael Erlich, the alleged incidents were reported in Willard’s soon-to-be ex-wife’s divorce file; a relative of his ex-wife was the alleged victim four years ago.
Willard, a state trooper for the past 10 years, works out of the Sturbridge barracks. He was relieved of duty last week and suspended without pay on Monday. The duration of his suspension is indefinite.
State Police Internal Affairs will continue to monitor the criminal proceedings and will conduct its own internal investigation into Willard’s conduct. The alleged incidents occurred while Willard was off-duty.
The case was investigated by the State Police detectives assigned to Worcester County District Attorney’s Office. The case’s prosecutor is Assistant District Attorney Terry McLaughlin.