We all heard the same evidence that the jury did. We heard the tape recorded conversation in which Norm McAllister discussed his sexual interactions with the alleged victim in the grossest terms.
We heard her tearful and painfully detailed account of those same interactions in direct testimony from the stand.
We heard the Defense’s one scheduled witness, McAllister’s son Heath, noticeably hesitate as he responded in his father’s defense.
Then we heard Norm McAllister unexpectedly take the stand and essentially tell a tale completely opposite to that of the alleged victim, but with none of the visceral emotion betrayed in the woman’s voice.
Apparently, when the chips were down, the jury chose McAllister’s testimony as more credible, which begs the question: why?
Was it because the jury was predominantly male and societal attitudes remain in a place of denial about the legitimacy of rape complaints?
Was it because the alleged perpetrator was a “pillar of society,” a state senator, landowner and patriarch of a prominent Franklin County farm family; whereas the alleged victim was poor, powerless, and a prior victim of domestic abuse?
I have no idea; but the verdict makes no sense to me…especially since the jury did apparently believe McAllister was guilty of procurement for prostitution.
No doubt the fact that evidence of other sexual assault complaints against McAllister was excluded from the proceedings, and the fact that jury selection carefully screens for prior knowledge made a significant difference.
No one can fault the principle behind those exclusions, but justice is as often a victim of these discretions as it is a beneficiary.
In this case, justice was left crying in the dust.
I can venture that opinion because I was there at the first McAllister trial as well. I remember the emotionally scarred young woman, barely more than a girl, who had been persuaded to brave the courtroom to confront her accused assailant. It was clearly torture for her to relive her degradation in front of a courtroom full of curious listeners. Her participation was an act of greater bravery than most of us have ever been called upon to do, but, under relentless pressure and embarrassment, she told a desperate fib to preserve her current relationship…an insignificant fib about never having kissed a co-worker, and, when she confessed to her attorney her case was abandoned by the prosecutor and all that pain was for nought.
I still wonder how she is doing, having prostrated herself before the law only to be cast out into the judgmental world, never knowing the balm of justice.
The woman involved in the current case is older and more experienced in life’s cavalcade of never-ending disappointments, but still she shed real tears in her testimony, her cheeks burning with shame and degradation.
Her future is far more uncertain than that of her exploiter, even with his one conviction.
There is no true justice tonight.