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CONCORD

Sexual assault trial starts today

Girl says she can’t recall all details

A Concord man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl will go on trial today, though the alleged victim has said in court documents that she doesn’t remember him touching her inappropriately.

Stephen Bourne was first scheduled for a trial at Merrimack County Superior Court in October, but a judge called it off shortly before the jury entered the courtroom. In a statement dated that day, the 12-year-old girl Bourne is accused of sexually assaulting between 2009 and 2011 backpedaled on the information she initially told the police.

“I don’t remember him touching my privates or my chest area,” the girl wrote in the two-sentence note now filed in court.

The trial was postponed, and Bourne’s lawyer, Mark Sisti, went on to file a motion to dismiss the case, writing that the girl “stated unambiguously that she had no recollection whatsoever of the defendant touching her” inappropriately.

But Deputy County Attorney Catherine Ruffle, in an objection to Sisti’s motion, said the girl did not distinguish in her statement between abuses alleged to have taken place in Contoocook, at her home, and in Concord, at Bourne’s home.

Ruffle wrote that the girl told prosecutors she doesn’t remember the incidents in Contoocook. But in a follow-up interview after the trial was postponed, the girl said she does remember events at Bourne’s home and “would be able to testify to the alleged assaults at that location,” according to the objection.

Judge Richard McNamara denied the motion to dismiss, saying Sisti could raise it again after the state makes its case at trial.

Three of the five charges against 53-year-old Bourne are alleged to have taken place in Contoocook. As of Friday, none of the counts had been dismissed by prosecutors.

Last week Ruffle said she hadn’t yet decided whether any of the charges would be dropped but said she intended to make the call before a jury was selected. That process is scheduled to take place this morning, with the trial then beginning about 1:30 p.m.

Bourne has been accused of inappropriately touched the girl’s genitals both over and under her clothing, with the abuse starting when she was 8 years old and continuing until just before her 10th birthday. He is facing three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and two misdemeanors of simple assault.

In a separate case, Bourne has also been charged with eight counts of possessing child pornography. The police began investigating him in 2010 after his wife went to the elders at River of Grace Church and turned over images she believed to be child pornography, according to a police affidavit.

The images were allegedly burned before the police were notified. Bourne sought help from a counselor, whom he told about his history of looking at pornographic images of young girls, according to the police. That counselor notified law enforcement, according to the affidavit.

The church’s pastor, David Pinckney, has said that Bourne’s wife went to friends at the church looking for help. But Pinckney said those people were not church elders, and he denied that anyone at the church was ever shown the images. He said Bourne burned the images after his friends confronted him.

Bourne was then charged in 2011 with the alleged assaults, at which time his computer was seized.

In an affidavit, the police said a forensic examination of the computer showed Bourne had accessed two child pornography sites in May 2011, spending about two hours on one and about an hour on the other. That information led to the child pornography charges.

The alleged victim in the sexual assault case met Bourne through church, according to the police. But Pinckney, who said he coincidentally knows the girl’s family, said that church was the one Bourne attended before joining River of Grace.

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or
tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

This story was updated to reflect the correct spelling of David Pinckney’s name.

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