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Merrimack County prosecutors drop two charges before Bourne trial begins

Stephen Bourne is on trial for allegedly sexually abusing a young girl; Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

(SAMANTHA GORESH/ Monitor Staff)

Stephen Bourne is on trial for allegedly sexually abusing a young girl; Tuesday, January 22, 2013. (SAMANTHA GORESH/ Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

Merrimack County prosecutors this morning dropped two of the charges filed against Stephen Bourne, a Concord man on trial today for allegedly sexually abusing a young girl.

But Deputy County Attorney Catherine Ruffle did not exclusively abandon the crimes alleged to have taken place in Contoocook, though prosecutors have said in court documents that the alleged victim has had difficulty remembering those incidents.

Ruffle dropped two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, one alleged to have taken place in Concord and one in Contoocook. The state will still prosecute Bourne on one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault alleged to have taken place in Concord and two counts of simple assault prosecutors say happened in Contoocook.

Bourne, 53, 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 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.

The trial was scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.

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

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