One day into the trial of Sen. Norm McAllister earlier this month, prosecutors dropped two felony charges. The Franklin County Republican faced allegations that he sexually abused and raped a young woman who worked on his farm and as his intern at the Statehouse.
Karen Shingler, a Burlington lawyer who represents the young woman, said Monday that the state’s attorney dropped the charges against McAllister after learning the 21-year-old woman lied about a detail while testifying.
“The prosecution made a decision to dismiss it after realizing that the complaining witness had not been truthful about a collateral issue,” Shingler said.
The “collateral” issue, Shingler said, was “that she had kissed a boy.”
Terri Hallenbeck of Seven Days first reported that Shingler said that the witness admitted to lying about a detail while under oath. The Associated Press later reported that, according to Shingler, the witness admitted that she had kissed a co-worker on McAllister’s farm, which she had denied during questioning on the stand.
The witness was on the stand for much of the first day of the trial, answering questions at length from the state and the defense. Brooks McArthur, McAllister’s defense attorney, told the jury in his opening statement that the young woman had given inconsistent statements during different interviews. Through the course of questioning, a discrepancy emerged over how many incidents of assault allegedly had occurred.
Asked if the witness told any other untruths while on the witness stand, Shingler said, “No, not that I know of.”
“She stands by her story regarding Mr. McAllister,” Shingler said.
When asked why the prosecution would dismiss the charges based on a lie about a collateral detail, Shingler replied, “That’s a question best answered by (Deputy State’s Attorney) Diane Wheeler.”
Wheeler and Franklin County State’s Attorney Jim Hughes did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
McArthur said Monday that the witness was “not credible through her testimony.”
“This young woman has a different version of events of everything she talked about,” McArthur said.
McArthur said he agrees with victims advocates who say victims of sex abuse experience significant trauma that can impair their memories of events. However, he said that was not the case for this young woman, who he suggested was simply making things up.
Kris Lukens, of Voices Against Violence, said Monday that trauma can affect a victim’s memory. “It’s hard in general for victims to be able to say everything, to remember (everything) in the sequence it happened,” Lukens said.
“It’s not about someone lying or being untruthful,” Lukens said. “It’s just that their truth might look a little bit different.”
McAllister faces additional charges stemming from allegations from another woman who claims he sexually abused her. That trial has not been scheduled.