ST. ALBANS — The accuser in the sexual assault case of a sitting state senator described her experience with the man as “hell.”
Wednesday marked the first day of the trial of Sen. Norm McAllister, who is facing the possibility of life in prison over two felony counts of sexual assault.
During more than four hours of testimony, the alleged victim — now 21 years old — wore a plaid green shirt and blue jeans and shifted back in forth in her chair as she recounted numerous instances of McAllister assaulting her when she was 16 years old.
“I was in hell,” she said, describing the first time McAllister allegedly assaulted her in a barn near his farm in Franklin.
McAllister — a two-term Republican senator from Franklin County who is seeking re-election — watched his accuser intently as she described working for him as a farm hand, saying he sometimes made her feel uncomfortable.
“Just the way he looked at me, eyeballing me up and down like a person does, undressing someone with your eyes,” she said.
The accuser — who said she stood 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighed 85 pounds at the time of the first alleged assault — described being physically overpowered by McAllister.
Despite being assaulted, the alleged victim said she needed money to pay for her car and continued to work for McAllister, although she did her best not to be alone with him.
Later, she took a job as McAllister’s intern at the State House.
“The State House and everything, I thought I would be around people and nothing would happen,” she said.
She described her time staying in the Montpelier home McAllister shared with fellow Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, and Rep. Timothy Corcoran, D-Bennington.
“I woke up and he was standing over me and told me he wanted me to go to his room,” she testified as she described another assault. “I was telling him ‘no.’”
According to the accuser, McAllister’s attempts to have sex with her were ongoing.
“There were times when (Mullin and Corcoran) were at meetings and we were alone and he would try to get in my pants,” she said.
The charges McAllister faces relate to alleged incidents on or near his farm in Franklin, and not in Montpelier. The accuser said McAllister assaulted her anywhere from five to 20 times.
She did not contact the police and said she was reluctant to talk to them when they contacted her because “I didn’t want to ruin his job or anything.”
During cross examination, defense attorney David Williams referenced a Facebook post from 2014 — after the time she says McAllister assaulted her — in which she expressed happiness working on his re-election campaign.
“You went to cookouts. You rode around in (McAllister’s) truck,” Williams said.
Williams noted a stark inconsistency in the accuser’s testimony. During an initial deposition, she said McAllister assaulted her on her first day of work in his home. In open court on Wednesday, she said the first assault occurred in an old barn after she had worked for McAllister for weeks.
Both statements were made under oath.
Williams also questioned the accuser’s timeline of events. The charges reflect alleged assaults that occurred while she worked on McAllister’s farm, from summer 2012 to spring 2013. During her account of the first assault, the accuser said her hair was dyed purple.
However, Williams offered into evidence a Facebook profile picture of the accuser with purple hair from early 2014, while noting the lack of other pictures with this particular hairstyle.
However, by her own admission, McAllister’s accuser said she is bad with numbers and dates. She was unable to state how long the drive was from her home to McAllister’s farm and struggled to recall how old she was when she got her driver’s license.
According to her own testimony, McAllister’s accuser said the first assault was interrupted by a resident of the farm. Williams did not dispute a sexual act occurred, but questioned why she did not call out for help.
Williams also noted she had plenty of people at the State House she could have spoken to, from lawmakers to police.
“That’s not something I really do, seek help,” she said during her initial testimony.
The accuser was visibly annoyed with Williams, sitting with her arms crossed and saying, at one point, “I think you’re twisting my words a little bit.”
Just before the trial adjourned for the day, Williams told McAllister’s accuser she fabricated stories of sexual assault to preserve her relationship with her boyfriend.
“The only way you could keep (your boyfriend) was to implicate Norm,” he said.
The trial will continue Thursday with more testimony from the accuser. Among the people expected to testify are investigators with Vermont State Police, as well as Mullin and Corcoran, the lawmakers who lived with McAllister in Montpelier.