Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

McAllister's Accuser Takes The Stand On First Day Of Sexual Assault Trial

Taylor Dobbs
Sen. Norm McAllister (right) was at Franklin County Superior Court Wednesday for the trial.

Sen. Norm McAllister’s trial on charges of sexual assault began Wednesday morning with prosecutors describing a survivor who didn’t want to share details of what McAllister allegedly did to her and defense attorneys accusing the same woman of offering inconsistent stories about McAllister’s actions.

McAllister was arrested in May 2015 on charges of sexually assaulting multiple women; this week’s trial is focused on a single accuser who worked on McAllister’s goat farm. In late-morning testimony, she described two separate incidents.

?The testimony contained graphic details of alleged sexual assaults. The following accounts may not be suitable for all readers.?

The accuser says McAllister forced her to have oral sex with him in a barn near his property, and then weeks later forced her to a bedroom in his home, where he held her down and raped her. She said subsequent sexual assaults took place on McAllister’s couch in his home and in a camper near his house.

The 21-year-old woman spoke quietly and had many long pauses in her testimony. She claimed to have trouble recalling details such as how long it took her to drive to McAllister’s farm, where she was employed as a farm hand during high school, or how much time passed between the two incidents. The state prosecutor’s questioning drew out details of two incidents in which McAllister physically overpowered her and forced himself on her.

The woman said that McAllister sexually assaulted her more than five and less than 20 times, beginning a few weeks after she got a job on his goat farm through a newspaper ad in 2012.

She went into graphic detail about the first two incidents, including that McAllister grabbed her by her ponytail (which she said was purple at the time) in an abandoned barn, then forced her to perform oral sex on him.

She described another incident a few weeks later in which McAllister allegedly grabbed her by the arm after she declined to have sex with him, then threw her over his shoulder (she said she was 85 pounds and in high school at the time) and carried her to his bedroom, where he held her down and raped her.

In the afternoon, McAllister defense attorney David Williams challenged that testimony by comparing it to statements the woman made under oath during a deposition.

“You told two different stories under oath,” he said.

In a recording Williams played of a deposition, the accuser told Williams that the first sexual assault took place on the first day of her employment on McAllister’s farm in the summer of 2012. She also said the first sexual assault took place inside McAllister’s home, not in a barn near his house as she’d testified at trial.

The defense also spent nearly half an hour asking the accuser about her Facebook page, including about the profile pictures posted to that page. The profile pictures do not show the accuser with purple hair until 2014, well after she claimed the first assault took place in the barn.

In an interview with Vermont State Police, which Williams also played at trial, the accuser denied that there was a sexual assault inside a camper near McAllister’s home. That answer contradicted the accuser’s description in the morning of the trial of a sexual assault taking place in the trailer.

Follow @taylordobbson Twitter for more from the trial of Sen. Norm McAllister.

The day ended as Williams was confronting the accuser about why she made the accusations against McAllister.

Williams suggested that she accused him of sexual assault in an effort to save her relationship with her boyfriend. Williams said Rachel Feldman, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, told investigators that the accuser had confided in her about relationship problems, and Williams suggested that her boyfriend was suspicious that the accuser was cheating on him with McAllister.

“You didn’t want to lose [your boyfriend] over this,” Williams said to the accuser, setting up his argument “you had just started a relationship with him, you were living with him, you had your profile picture on Facebook, you didn’t want to lose him over this phony accusation that you were having sex with Norm McAllister, right? You didn’t want to lose [your boyfriend.]”

The accuser, clearly annoyed, responded: “And?”

“You didn’t want to lose [your boyfriend],” Williams said.

“Nope,” she replied.

“And the only way you could placate [your boyfriend] was to implicate Norm [McAllister],” Williams responded.

“What?” the accuser said incredulously.

Williams suggested that the woman accused McAllister of sexual assault in an effort to save her relationship with her boyfriend.

The trial resumes Thursday morning with the accuser still on the stand.

Editor’s Note: VPR is not publishing the name of McAllister’s accuser or her ex-boyfriend in order to protect her identity, in compliance with VPR policy not to name victims of alleged sexual assaults.

Clarification 5:00 p.m. 6/16/2016 This story has been updated to clarify the distinction between what Feldman told investigators and what Williams suggested.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
Latest Stories