Joubert’s second trial opens in Merrimack County Superior Court
Robert Joubert (center) turns to his lawyer as he is handcuffed following a hearing on whether police can search Joubert's cellphone at Merrimack County Superior Court; Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Joubert, a former baseball coach, is being tried on charges of sexually assaulting several bchildren in Hillsborough, Merrimack and Federal courts. (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
Less than two weeks after being sentenced to 40 years in prison, Robert Joubert, the former Concord area youth baseball coach accused of molesting players and other young boys, returned to court yesterday for the start of his second trial.
Joubert’s first trial, on federal charges of possessing child pornography and sexually exploiting a Hillsboro boy, ended in November with convictions on all counts.
Prosecutors in this case, in Merrimack County Superior Court, hope to prove that Joubert sexually assaulted the same victim between 2000 and 2004. Joubert, who is 60, was the boy’s coach and lived with him and his mother for a period. He is accused of touching the boy’s genitals and directing him to touch his.
Assistant County Attorney Kristen Vartanian told jurors yesterday that Joubert’s relationship with the boy seemed innocent at first, but quickly devolved into an “unhealthy obsession.” She said he often rewarded the child for complying with his instructions, and reassured him “it was okay for guys to do this.”
Under state law, jurors can convict Joubert solely on the victim’s testimony. But Vartanian said there is also evidence in this case: a video tape found in Joubert’s possession in 2012 that shows the victim masturbating an unidentified man off-camera. The victim testified in the federal case that the man was Joubert.
Andrew Ain, one of Joubert’s public defenders, said the video proves nothing. He told jurors the state had gone so far as to photograph Joubert’s genitals with the hope that an expert would match them to those on the tape, and that the effort had proved fruitless.
“They really don’t look the same,” Ain said.
Ain said the boy’s mother had dated several men during the time Joubert had lived with them, and that any of them could have taken his camcorder and molested the victim. He also called into question the victim’s testimony, saying he has given detectives and attorneys differing accounts of what happened.
“I don’t know which version of (the victim’s) story you’re going to hear,” he told jurors.
The trial, which could continue into next week, may have little tangible impact in the end. As it stands, Joubert will be 100 by the time he is released from federal prison. The outcome of this trial could come into play, however, should he successfully appeal his federal convictions.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, email@example.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)