Vermont Jury Clears Ex-Lawmaker on Sex Assault Charge

The verdict came late Friday night

Norm McAllister VT

A Vermont jury has cleared a former state senator of a serious sexual assault charge.

After hearing two days of evidence and deliberating for roughly four hours, the jury in St. Albans found Norm McAllister not guilty of forcing a tenant into sex in exchange for rent.

Prosecutors had argued the woman didn't want the sexual relationship that lasted a few years, but that she was trapped because she feared losing her housing.

The defense argued the sex was consensual, and that the woman's story changed only when other people learned of the relationship, including an ex with a history of anger and violence.

McAllister even took to the witness stand in his own defense Friday in an attempt to clear his name.

Despite the acquittal on the sexual assault charge, the ex-lawmaker was found guilty on a separate charge of prohibited acts.

That charge asked the jury whether McAllister arranged a sexual encounter between the tenant and a friend in exchange for cash, so the woman could pay a utility bill.

McAllister's defense attorney, Bob Katims, said he plans to appeal that verdict.

Norm McAllister represented Franklin County in the Vermont State Senate as a Republican until he was suspended when the allegations came to light. He later lost a reelection bid.

McAllister was arrested outside the Vermont Statehouse in May 2015.

McAllister told reporters late Friday night that he was grateful for the acquittal on the sexual assault charge, but disappointed he was not cleared of all charges.

He remains free on bail.

Two other women made accusations of sex crimes against the former senator.

However, charges were dismissed when one of the women died, and the other, who was a Statehouse intern for McAllister, told a lie at trial about a topic not related to the accusations against the defendant.

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