File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
Norm McAllister in court Tuesday
Norm McAllister pleaded no contest to two counts of prohibited acts and to a charge of lewd and lascivious behavior late Tuesday, on the eve of a trial that had been set to start the next morning.
The former Republican state senator from Franklin County was released on bail and will be sentenced at a later date. He could be sentenced to up to seven years in jail. McAllister will undergo a psychosexual evaluation with the Department of Corrections before sentencing.
McAllister must register as a sex offender.
The deal came shortly before 5 p.m., after a jury had been selected for his trial and most of the people in the courthouse earlier had gone home.
McAllister responded soberly to Judge Martin Maley’s questions about his pleas and three times announced “no contest.” He left the courtroom without responding to a request for comment.
It was a stunning turn in a criminal case that rocked the state. The charges were brought against McAllister while he was a senator, and led to the first-ever suspension of a Vermont senator. Still on suspension, he lost a reelection bid last year.
The charges were to be heard in two trials. The first case, in June, involved a young woman who had worked for him on his farm in Highgate and as an assistant in Montpelier. She testified about alleged sexual assaults. But prosecutors dropped the case after she admitted to lying under oath.
This week, jurors were to hear charges involving a woman who lived in a trailer on McAllister’s farm and worked as a farmhand. Police documents filed with the court describe a sex-for-rent scenario.
McAllister originally faced a sexual assault charge and two counts of prohibited acts before Tuesday’s plea agreement.
At least 55 potential jurors were called to Superior Court in St. Albans for the trial. McAllister sat next to his attorneys and watched impassively, often making direct eye contact with potential jurors as lawyers questioned them.
It took most of the day, but by 3:50 p.m. a jury of 12 plus two alternates were picked and were told to arrive at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday for the trial.