MCAllister takes stand in his sex assault trial

ST. ALBANS — In an unexpected turn of events on what was anticipated to the last day of former state Sen. Norm McAllister's sexual assault trial, he took the stand Friday contradicting the allegations of his accuser.

Far from propositioning her in 2012 when she was hired to milk goats on McAllister's farm, the former lawmaker said the two had no sexual relationship until after his wife died in 2013. At that point, McAllister said she came onto him, initiating sexual contact while he was grief-stricken.

"It was a hard time for me. [She] had been pretty supportive. I spent a lot of days just falling apart," he said. "One thing led to another, and she said, `I can make you feel better.'"

The two bonded over a shared loneliness during the winter holidays that year, McAllister said, as it was his first without his wife since they were married decades earlier, and she was separated from her children.

"We had a closeness, but it wasn't — I guess we had an understanding. I don't think it was love. It was just two needy people," McAllister said.

That's a wildly different account of how the relationship and how it started than [his alleged victim gave on the stand Thursday]. She told the court that, from the outset, McAllister made clear he expected sex, and sought and received oral sex days after they met.

When it came to the sex act that forms the basis for the most serious charge McAllister faces — a sexual assault charge that carries three years to life in prison — he said he put only a finger inside her vagina. He said she was enjoying what he was doing.

"All the sudden she said, `This tickles. I can't take anymore of that, and she got up,'" he said.

In his accuser's version, she testified that McAllister put his whole fist in her vagina. It was extremely painful, she said, causing her to cry out, to which McAllister responded by shushing her and telling her she was a "good girl."

McAllister also flatly denied having exchanged sex for rent at any point, or having a friend pay to have sex with her, money that the woman said was used to pay her utility bill. Instead, McAllister testified that he and his wife let the woman live in the trailer out of kindness because they were aware it would help her get custody of her children.

He said he paid $70 toward her utility bill, because the power company was at the trailer threatening to shut off her electricity.

Those two allegations of prostitution are the basis for two prohibited acts charges that carry up to a year in prison each.

McAllister's testimony came after that of his son, Health McAllister, whom the defense called at the start of Friday's proceedings. Heath testified that he was helping out on the family farm at the time his father's accuser was hired.

At no time during her initial interview, according to Heath, was she alone with his father — an incident where the woman claims McAllister kissed and groped her. On cross examination, Deputy State's Attorney John Lavoie got Heath to admit he could not be sure that was the first time the woman came to the farm.

The younger McAllister testified that he became suspicious of his father's relationship with the woman after his mother's death, and eventually confronted McAllister. Heath appeared to contradict himself as to whether McAllister denied the relationship at first.

Asked by Lavoie if his father was proud of the relationship, Heath responded, "He wasn't parading her around."

Lavoie asked if Heath believed his father would have told him about an affair with the woman, had it started before his mother died. "He probably would have. Me and my dad have relationship that not many fathers and sons have."

Asked the same question again moments later if McAllister would have kept the affair a secret, Heath responded, "I can't imagine anybody would do anything other."

The defense was only expected to call one witness, the woman's ex-husband, but instead they called both McAllisters. Judge Martin Maley had told jurors Thursday the case may be in their hands by midday Friday.

That no longer appears to be the case, as it's likely the state will want to do an extensive cross examination of McAllister.

The trial that got underway Wednesday is the second of two sexual assault trials for McAllister. The first involved a woman who worked as an intern in Montpelier for McAllister. That trial began last summer, but prosecutors dropped that case after it emerged that the woman had lied about a detail of her relationship with another person who worked on McAllister's farm.

The allegations of sexual assault led to McAllister's arrest at the Statehouse in 2015 and spelled the end of his political career.


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