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State Drops Charges Against McAllister In First Of Two Sexual Assault Cases

Former state senator Norm McAllister, seen here outside a courthouse, was convicted in 2017 of prostituting a female tenant on his farm. The Vermont Supreme Court Friday ordered a retrial in the case.
Taylor Dobbs
VPR file
McAllister, shown here exiting the Franklin County Superior Court Thursday, still faces charges in a second case that is expected to be tried later this summer. But only one of those counts is a felony.

State senator Norm McAllister's rape trial ended abruptly this morning as prosecutors dismissed two counts of sexual assault against him.

Seconds after court began Thursday morning, state prosecutor Diane Wheeler dropped the charges.

"Based on some information that came to light last evening that I've shared with the defense and the court, the state is in the position of having to dismiss counts five and six," she said, referring to the two sexual assault charges that were the subject of this week's trial.

McAllister faces four other charges involving a different woman; that case is expected to be tried later this summer.

Wheeler offered no further explanation as the jury of seven men and five women was dismissed.

McAllister's defense attorney Brooks McArthur said based on the cross examination of the accuser Wednesday it seemed clear why the state dismissed the charges. During that cross examination, the defense pointed out numerous inconsistencies in the witness's story.

"You heard the testimony yesterday, the case has been dismissed today. I think that speaks for itself," he said to a gathering of reporters outside the Franklin County Superior Court building in St. Albans. "Obviously we raised a number of credibility issues with the complaining witness ... when she testified. And the fact that the case has been dismissed this morning without any further testimony we think speaks for itself."

The only other detail McArthur provided is that the dismissal "was based on what she testified about yesterday."

  The defense pointed out that in sworn statements, the accuser claimed that McAllister sexually assaulted her in his home on her first day of work on his farm in 2012. In testimony at trial on Wednesday, she told a different story.

On Wednesday, the 21-year-old woman, who used to work for McAllister, testified that the first sexual assault took place a few weeks into her employment on the farm, when she said McAllister forced her to have oral sex in a barn and that he raped her in his home weeks later.

The 4-foot, 11-inch woman, who weighs less than 100 pounds, spoke of up to 30 incidents in which she said McAllister, a foot taller and 230 pounds, physically overpowered her.

McAllister's attorneys focused on what they said were numerous inconsistencies in her sworn statements, and didn't rely on alibis or other testimony to bolster their case.

But the woman said in court Wednesday:  "I'll put it this way: I remember the bad things that happened, but I don't remember them in order. I remember bits and pieces, and things that just pop into my head, if that explains it."

After the charges were dropped Thursday morning, McAllister was silent. McArthur, his lawyer, spoke to reporters and said in this case the justice system has worked.

"The prosecution did exactly what the prosecution was supposed to do and they dismissed the case today, so from that perspective, I believe the system as worked," he said.

The court scheduled a status conference to take place next month, where both sides will discuss the remaining four charges against McAllister, which are based on allegations that he sexually assaulted a different woman.

This story has been updated to include additional reporting.

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.
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