Elodie Reed, St. Albans Messenger
ST. ALBANS — According to police, years of coerced sex came to light when Franklin County State Senator Norm McAllister attempted to persuade a woman to have sex with him in exchange for not evicting her son, his tenant.
Court documents released on Friday also reveal McAllister allegedly coerced sex from that same tenant’s wife since 2012 when she came to work for him, and from a young woman he began employing on his farm in 2013.
Affidavits in the case contain graphic descriptions of the coerced sexual acts, much of the content is of a disturbing nature, including McAllister allegedly procuring sex for another man and discussing it as a moneymaking proposition.
“It’s ugly and it’s sordid,” said state’s attorney Jim Hughes. “It’s not a good day for Franklin County.”
On Friday, McAllister, 63, of Highgate, pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual assault, two counts of prohibited acts – procuring sex and one count of prohibited acts – transporting for sex. His arraignment took place in Franklin County Superior Court, Criminal Division.
The senator was arrested outside the State House Thursday following an investigation by the Vermont Northeast Unit for Special Investigations, a sex crime unit based in St. Albans. Vermont State Police originally cited McAllister with human trafficking, though Hughes chose not to bring that charge.
The criminal investigation developed rapidly after the woman identified in court documents as Victim #1 reached out to authorities. McAllister, she told police on Monday, had offered to allow her son to continue to live in a trailer on his farm with her daughter-in-law provided she had sex with him.
Victim #1 met with Det. Sgt. Benjamin Katz and told him McAllister had also coerced sex from her daughter-in-law in exchange for rent, which she said she learned from McAllister himself.
The daughter-in-law, listed in court documents as Victim #2, told police the assaults began after she started working for McAllister on his farm in December 2012.
“From the beginning of her employment, McAllister would ask her for sexual favors in exchange for her continuing to live and work at the property,” reported Katz in his affidavit.
She said, McAllister groped her during her interview for the job in October 2012.
Typically, McAllister would call or text her several times per week wanting sex, said Victim #2. Most of the encounters allegedly involved her performing oral sex on him in his vehicle, but also included vaginal penetration at her residence or his. She estimated she had performed oral sex on him 50 times and that they had vaginal sex approximately 20 times. “I told him that I felt exploited,” the victim told police.
On one occasion, the victim told police she accidentally injured another farmhand while learning to drive a tractor at McAllister’s farm. She told police McAllister said she would have to have anal sex with him as punishment, which she did not want to do.
McAllister also brought another man to her residence to have sex with her, the victim reported. She told police she had oral and vaginal sex with the man. She believed the man paid McAllister and wanted to meet again.
The victim refused. McAllister reportedly “expressed his disappointment” telling the victim, “It could be ‘a good steady means of income for both of us,'” according to the affidavit of Det. Trooper John McCallum, who also interviewed the victim.
The victim told police McAllister had had a plan to transport her to other farms where farmhands would pay to have sex with her. They could split the money, he allegedly told the victim, claiming it would be a reliable way for her to pay the rent.
On another occasion, McAllister allegedly came to the victim’s home unannounced and vaginally penetrated her with his fist, despite her protests and tears.
Police were able to obtain a warrant for a wiretap on May 4, and both Victim #1 and #2 made phone calls to the accused which were recorded by police.
During her call, victim two told McAllister she did not want to perform anal sex or be fisted again. Police report McAllister waited nine seconds before replying, “I can think about it.”
She also accused McAllister of enjoying causing her pain.
McAllister claimed during the call he thought she was enjoying being fisted, until she pulled away. The victim pointed out she was already crying by that point.
When the victim raised the unwanted anal sex, “McAllister laughed and said…. ‘Here’s the deal, you’re like many women who have had children. You’re not tight at all and anal you are tight and some women like it more than others,'” Katz reported McAllister saying on the recorded phone call.
Later in the call, Katz reported the following exchange between McAllister and his alleged victim.
McAllister: “I knew I was forcing you to do something you didn’t want to do. Even with just giving me a blow job. I knew that you didn’t really want to do that.”
Victim #2: “Do you feel bad that you hurt me?”
McAllister: “Yeah, I didn’t mean to.”
On the call, Katz also reports McAllister acknowledging the scheme to turn the second victim into a prostitute. “Yeah, we were trying to figure out a way you could do it ’cause you weren’t having any luck getting a frickin’ job that was paying anything … It seemed like a viable option.”
According to Katz, McAllister added that the victim’s pregnancy “put the kibosh on that.”
Although McAllister apparently claimed he did not want to hurt the second victim, a third victim reports she screamed through multiple acts of unwanted intercourse with McAllister.
Like Victim #2, Victim #3 had gone to work on McAllister’s farm in 2013.
She told police that soon after she started working for him, McAllister brought her into the barn “grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head down to his penis,” Trooper Drew Cota wrote in his affidavit.
The victim estimated she was forced to have oral sex with McAllister around 20 times and that he assaulted her vaginally around 10 or 11 times. This victim “stated that every time she had vaginal intercourse with McAllister, ‘I was screaming no at him and still, yes, he still went for it.'”
The most recent alleged incident with the third victim reportedly occurred in April in McAllister’s Montpelier apartment. With the second victim, the most recent alleged incident occurred this past weekend.
McAllister was arrested Thursday following a full day at the State House debating education and other bills. According to police affidavits provided by the court, State Trooper Benjamin Katz asked to speak with McAllister during a Senate recess.
Following a short conversation in which Sen. Peg Flory, R-Rutland, and Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, an attorney who practices criminal law, intervened, police took McAllister into custody.
He was lodged at Northwest State Correctional Facility for $20,000 Thursday night, though he later posted bail.
At the courthouse
Walking to the courthouse with his lawyer, Brooks G. McArthur, of Jarvis, McArthur & Williams, and a man who appeared to be his son, McAllister remained silent when asked questions by members of the media.
After McAllister plead not guilty to the six charges, Judge Alison Arms issued conditions of release including no contact with the three victims concerned in the case. In addition, Arms continued McAllister’s $20,000 bail. McArthur did not object to either the conditions or the bail.
The maximum penalty for the charges against McAllister is nine years to life in prison and up to $75,300 in fines.
Following McAllister’s arraignment, McArthur stopped briefly outside the courthouse to address reporters.
“I would ask people not to rush to judgment and I hope in short order that our side of things will be heard,” he said.
When a reporter asked whether McAllister planned to finish out the legislative session, McArthur responded, “That I don’t know.”
McAllister was elected to the Vermont Senate in 2012, after serving 10 years in the House representing Highgate, Franklin, Richford and Berkshire. During his time in the State House, McAllister voted for the human trafficking bill in the House in 2011. In this session he spoke of his wife, a local teacher, who died in 2013. He did so in an effort to convince his fellow legislators to reverse the Death with Dignity bill.