Update: Is this what scuttled the McAllister trial?

As I have already said elsewhere, I sat in disbelief last Wednesday as the Prosecution dropped the charges of multiple sexual assaults against suspended senator Norm McAllister.  This, after putting the fragile victim through something like five hours of clearly painful and humiliating public testimony while the accused, seated with his back to the curious crowd, was spared the need for any account of himself.

I was further dismayed to see so little concern over the decision expressed by conventional media. Emphasis seemed to rest on the Defense’s unchallenged assertion that McAllister had been “vindicated.” Attorneys for the two sides shook hands amicably and left the courtroom without really explaining what had happened.

The victim was simply abandoned to the tender mercies of public speculation.

It was therefore more than a little heartening to finally hear a piece on VPR this afternoon that showed more empathy for the victim than was exhibited in the immediate aftermath of the aborted trial.

From VPR, we learned that the Prosecution had made the decision to drop the case after the Defense pointed to something that the victim “lied” about in her testimony. We are told that the victim felt question asked was “too personal” and, in any case,  irrelevant to the case; but the prosecutor, nevertheless, decided to withdraw the charges when the victim admitted that she hadn’t answered truthfully..

I think I might know what this is all about and it really was a very poor reason to abandon the case. If I am mistaken, I would really like someone to set me straight.

Toward the close of the cross-examination, she was clearly reaching the end of her emotional tether.  Perhaps realizing she was that close to breaking, the Defense began to pressure her about physical evidence of the crime on her body, and in rapid succession she said, “no,no, no” to every intimate question that was asked.  Her body language indicated to me that they had hit a wall of resistance to any further indignity.  She’d had enough.

The other possibility that occurs to me is that the Defense succeeded in persuading the Prosecution that they could dispute a detail of the first attack as she described it, by referencing her Facebook page.

In her testimony, the victim said that her ponytail had been dyed purple at the time of the first attack. At the break, I overheard the Defense, first discussing among themselves; then,with the Prosecution, that this was “impossible” because photos on her Facebook page showed her with a purple ponytail a year later but not in any of the photos on her Facebook page that date to the time of the first attack.

Having had a teenager, I know, as probably most people do, that these colors can be applied rather spontaneously and disappear or are rinsed away rather easily. She could very well have had a purple ponytail at the time of the first attack too, but not been photographed with it.

It is, in any case, the kind of detail that could easily become confused in the memory of a girl suffering the mental anguish of rape and trying to suppress that memory in order to keep it secret.

If this is what caused the Prosecution to drop the charges, it is a pretty poor reason.

Either way, the inconsistencies in her testimony could have easily been explained by the Prosecution as consistent with PTSD from sexual abuse.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

One thought on “Update: Is this what scuttled the McAllister trial?

  1. This whole thing is so unbelievably sad. No one there to help her through it all? Shameful. No wonder most women (and men) choose not to come forward to accuse their attackers. A travesty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *