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McAllister Found Guilty Of Single Count Of Prohibited Acts, Acquitted Of Sexual Assault Charge

Former lawmaker Norm McAllister takes the stand to testify on the third day of his trial at Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Friday, July 14, 2017.
Greg Lamereaux
Pool Photo
Former lawmaker Norm McAllister takes the stand to testify on the third day of his trial at Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on Friday, July 14, 2017.

Late Friday night, the jury in the case against former state senator Norm McAllister found him guilty of one count of prohibited acts and acquitted on charges of sexual assault and a second count of prohibited acts. 

Original story: Jan 14, 2017 4:37 p.m.

Former state senator Norm McAllister took the stand in Franklin County Criminal Court Friday morning in a sexual assault case against him. Under oath, McAllister unequivocally denied that he engaged in a sex-for-rent scheme with a woman who was living on his farm at the time.

In his testimony, McAllister did not deny that he had a sexual relationship with the woman but he says it was consensual.

McAllister's defense attorney, Robert Katims, played a recording of a phone call between McAllister and the woman in which McAllister seems to admit that his relationship with the woman "turned into" prostitution.

McAllister said that in the phone call, he was saying that his sexual encounters with the woman felt like prostitution not because there was a transactional arrangement for sex, but because it felt like "just loveless sex."

The prosecution, cross-examining McAllister, raised questions about the way he responded to the woman's statements over the phone.

At one point on the call, the woman mentioned an incident in which she cried out in pain and he responded by saying "good girl." McAllister now denies that such an incident ever occurred. On the phone with the woman, in the call recorded soon before his arrest in 2015, McAllister did not deny her claims or otherwise indicate that she was saying something that contradicted his understanding of events.

In court Friday, McAllister said he didn't question the woman or deny the allegations because the phone call was not a confrontation.

"We were not having a confrontational talk. I didn't understand why she was saying what she was," McAllister said.

The former senator's testimony was a surprise to observers, who expected closing arguments in the trial to wrap up near midday Friday. Instead, McAllister's testimony lasted well into Friday afternoon and the judge overseeing the case told jurors they may have to return Saturday or Monday to finish the case.

The prosecution's key witness in the case — the woman who says McAllister forced her to have sex with him in exchange for housing — testified earlier in the week and said that none of her sexual interactions with McAllister felt consensual to her.

This is the second case involving allegations of sex crimes against McAllister. Charges in the first case were dropped last year after the primary witness reportedly lied under oath.

Updated 10:05 p.m. This story originally ran under the headline "McAllister Takes The Stand At Trial, Denies Sex-For-Rent Scheme." It's been updated to include the jury's decision Friday night.

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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