Jury to begin hearing testimony in senator sex-assault case

Posted at 2:21 AM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 02:27:30-04
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A suspended Vermont state senator could get up to two life sentences if he is convicted of two counts of sexual assault in a trial that is slated to include testimony from some of his legislative colleagues.
A jury of seven men and five women is set to begin hearing testimony against Sen. Norman McAllister on Wednesday.
The 64-year-old Franklin County Republican has maintained his innocence since his arrest outside the Statehouse on May 7, 2015. He filed papers last month indicating he is seeking re-election, following his suspension by the Senate in January.
McAllister faces two trials. His legal team last month persuaded Judge Robert Mello to separate the case into two separate trials, with four other charges to be heard in the fall.
A key witness Wednesday is expected to be McAllister's alleged victim, now 21, who worked for him at his farm, and later as an assistant at the Statehouse. She has told authorities that McAllister forced sex on her at his farm and at the Montpelier apartment he shared with two other lawmakers: Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, and Rep. Timothy Corcoran, D-Bennington. They are among the lawmakers expected to be called as witnesses.
McAllister's lawyer, Brooks McArthur, said both of the charges lodged against McAllister relate to sex acts at the farm. He said he would seek testimony about the woman's statements about sex assaults in Montpelier in an effort to challenge her credibility.
The state has also listed two news reporters — Peter Hirschfeld of Vermont Public Radio and Mark Davis of Seven Days — as potential witnesses, possibly to show inconsistencies in McAllister's statements to the reporters.