Courts & Corrections

McAllister takes plea deal to avoid second sex assault trial

Norm McAllister
Norm McAllister, left, listens during his sex assault trial last summer in St. Albans. He was to go on trial this week on a second set of charges. File photo by Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
ST. ALBANS — Former Franklin County Sen. Norm McAllister accepted a plea deal late Tuesday in the second of two sexual assault cases he faced.

After more than eight hours spent seating a jury, McAllister agreed to plead no contest to two counts of prohibited acts and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct, said Diane Wheeler, first deputy state’s attorney in Franklin County.

The former Republican senator faced a more serious charge of sexual assault in addition to the two charges of prohibited acts in a trial that was scheduled to begin Wednesday. The sexual assault charge carried a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Lewd and lascivious conduct carries a maximum sentence of five years and up to a $300 fine. The prohibited acts charges carry a maximum sentence of one year each and a fine of up to $100 each.

McAllister’s sentence will be determined by a judge, with prosecutors and his defense having the opportunity to make their case for a particular sentence within the statutory parameters, according to Wheeler.

The first trial ended in June when the state dropped its charges because McAllister’s accuser in that case perjured herself on a minor detail. McAllister, 65, of Highgate Center, has remained free on conditions.

The trial scheduled to begin Wednesday centered on accusations that McAllister repeatedly sexually assaulted a woman who was living in a trailer on his Highgate farm. It was described as a sex-for-rent scheme.

The two charges of prohibited acts stem from police recordings of phone conversations between McAllister and the former mother-in-law of the woman he allegedly sexually assaulted in the current case. Transcripts of those conversations could be interpreted as showing McAllister negotiating sex with the mother for her son’s half of rent on the trailer.

The mother, who first approached police with allegations against McAllister, died of natural causes shortly after his arrest.

McAllister was arrested outside the Statehouse at the end of the 2015 session and suspended by his colleagues a year ago. He lost a bid for re-election in the August primary.

The former lawmaker still faces a civil suit from his accuser in this week’s criminal case. It seeks damages for the alleged sexual mistreatment and subpar living conditions in the farm trailer.

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Morgan True

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  • Ernie Hotchkiss

    Morgan, how about digging a little deeper with this article, and asking the question as to why a plea deal was even sought, and why McAllistar is not having to face a trial on the full and original charges? And if he gets a prison sentence at all, will it be a country club jail for politicians and the rich, or will he have to serve time in the same prison with other rapists and sexual predators? And what are the terms of the plea deal with regard to him having to be a registered sex offender? Did they leave that in, or does he get a free pass?

    • Darcy Canu

      Mr. McAllister did face trial on the original charges, but it was thrown out b/c the accuser perjured herself. See above.
      Just a gut feeling, but having kept up on this case earlier in the year, a deal was made between the accused and the State, as he knows the cards are stacked high against his case, and that deal may save him a quantity of jail time. Who knows. We’ll all read about him at sentencing time.

      • Neil Johnson

        If the state offered him the plea deal, that might indicate they really didn’t have a strong case, rather than the other way around. You can’t tell from the reporting what actually happened. Please fill us in a bit more with facts.

        • Darcy Canu

          I rather doubt that the State offered the deal. Isn’t it usually the defense that requests a plea, while admitting to a lesser crime to avoid a damaging trial? At this point we don’t know, and perhaps won’t until more information is revealed. At this point, we can only make our own assumptions about Mr. McAllister.

    • Pat McGarry

      Where is this “country club jail”, Ernie?

      The “terms” of a plea deal have nothing to do with whether an individual becomes a registered sex offender. 13 VSA 5401 (A) iii specifies that anyone convicted of the felony he pled to- 13 VSA 2601- is a registered sex offender for life.

  • Neil Johnson

    So who offered the plea deal, it sounds like the state offered the deal to him.

  • Neil Johnson

    One of the things about “justice” is getting before a judge. This is the only time things happen and like most cases deals are made before actually going into a court room. Two years is way too long to get to court room, our justice system fails society when we don’t get before a judge in a timely fashion, it’s the only time you can force the hand of the other side, otherwise they drag you out for years, trying to wear you down financially and mentally. If the state settled on this it’s probably because they had little or no case and had to save face. If the arrangement wasn’t a mutually agreed upon situation between Norm and the Woman , as a women, why would I not press further? As a woman who accused for being violated, you’d have nothing to loose as this plea deal isn’t much justice for accused crime. We need more details, this doesn’t get us close to the truth.

  • Paul Drayman

    I’ve not followed the 2 cases closely, but either side might offer a plea, even if they feel they have a a strong case. Both sides, of course, have to agree. Even with a strong case, it may be uncertain if all 12 jurors will convict on a major felony with a possible life sentence. Additionally, a potential witness for the prosecution had perjured herself in a related case and a key prosecution witness to the current case died.
    On the other hand, the defense, as well, may not be willing to take their chances, especially if they did convict him on the sexual assault. There are many ways that these cases can turn out.