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Federal judge allows evidence in Robert Joubert sex abuse trial

Robert Joubert’s attorney argued yesterday that Joubert denied all sexual assault allegations against him during a conversation wiretapped by the police last year. But a federal judge didn’t agree with that interpretation of a conversation between Joubert and one of his accusers.

The 37-year-old man who confronted Joubert during the police investigation has accused Joubert of sexually abusing him twice, when he was 9 and 11.

“I know, but what if me not saying something has led to it happening to somebody else? How would I be able to live with myself then?” he asked Joubert during the conversation last June, according a portion of the transcript read in court yesterday.

“No, nothing has happened with anyone,” Joubert replied.

Bjorn Lange, Joubert’s attorney, argued that the statement amounted to Joubert’s denial of all sexual abuse accusations. Because the police used the conversation when seeking a warrant to search the Manchester home where Joubert was living, Lange said the warrant should not have been granted. He asked a judge to dismiss evidence obtained during that search.

But Judge Joseph Laplante ruled yesterday that the evidence can be included in the trial. Laplante agreed with the prosecutor’s argument that Joubert’s statement was a denial of abusing other victims, but not the accuser who confronted him. Joubert was apologetic when asked about that abuse, according to the affidavit for the search warrant.

Joubert, a 59-year-old youth baseball coach, is charged with sexual abuse of five victims over the span of two decades. He is facing trials in state and federal courts. In federal court, he is accused of filming pornography of one victim and abusing one boy while on a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., during the 1990s.

The evidence Laplante ruled on yesterday includes documents, VHS tapes, an audio recorder, a laptop, floppy disks, team rosters and sports equipment.

Attorneys did not discuss that evidence at yesterday’s hearing. Instead, arguments focused on the affidavit for a search warrant and the credibility of the man who suggested that the police search the home.

Lange argued that the man – the same alleged victim who had the recorded conversation with Joubert – was not credible. The police affidavit omitted the fact that the man had a previous conviction of forgery, which Lange said could have negated his credibility as an informant.

Concord police Detective Sean Ford testified yesterday that he was not aware of the forgery conviction, which happened 16 years ago, while he was preparing the affidavit.

Though Laplante said the man’s record should have been included in the affidavit, he ruled that it would not have changed the outcome of the search warrant.

Ford said he did not question the man’s credibility, because the police independently confirmed other information he gave them. He also led them to another alleged victim.

“He made no statements that anything had happened, but he suspected that Mr. Joubert had a strong close relationship and had spent a lot of time alone with (another juvenile),” Ford said.

When the police interviewed that other man, he disclosed that Joubert had sexually assaulted him “hundreds of time while he was a young boy,” according to the affidavit. The man, now 29, told the police Joubert had taken photos of him and abused him while on a trip to Cooperstown.

Lange also argued that the search warrant was invalid because the 37-year-old man gave the police information about the items in the home, but did not have reason to believe Joubert had child pornography.

Laplante was skeptical of that argument and cited other people’s accounts in the affidavit that Joubert photographed and took videos of juvenile baseball players.

“Isn’t it just natural and commonsensical to assume that someone who takes these videos and photos will keep them at home?” Laplante asked.

Lastly, Laplante ruled, the police affidavit accurately summarized the recorded conversation between Joubert and the alleged victim. The affidavit states that Joubert “made no denials, apologized and became emotional” when the man brought up Joubert’s abuse.

During that conversation, the man also confronted Joubert about his claims that he abused him as a child. (The man has described the abuse to the police as “masturbatory in nature,” according to the affidavit.)

“You can’t look at me in the eye and tell me that you didn’t do anything with me. Am I right?” the man asked, according to an excerpt filed in court.

“I’m ashamed of a lot of the things I did,” Joubert told him.

The full recording and transcript of the conversation are sealed from public view.

Three of Joubert’s trials, in federal court and Merrimack County Superior Court, are scheduled for June. He also is facing charges in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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