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Alleged rape victim in separate case testifies on day 2 of Houghton child porn trial

The 26-year-old relative who has accused James Houghton of sexually assaulting her at his Henniker home testified yesterday, during a trial on unrelated charges, that she has never accessed Houghton’s Compaq laptop or downloaded lewd images of underage girls, as defense attorneys had suggested a day earlier.

The woman told attorneys that she had been with Houghton when he purchased the computer in 2009, and that she had seen him use it numerous times, typically while “sitting in the bathroom or in his bedroom.” In addition, she said she had no need to use his laptop because she had her own, a pink Dell.

Houghton, 49, is facing 23 felony counts of possession of child pornography for images and videos police officers found on the Compaq after searching his home in 2011 for evidence of the sexual assault. Arguments in his two-day trial at Merrimack County Superior Court ended yesterday; a jury verdict has yet to be reached.

On Thursday, the defense argued that the relative had been living with Houghton periodically prior to the police search, that she knew the password to his computer and that she had routine access to it while Houghton was at work. The woman, however, denied some of those claims. She admitted she had been living with Houghton off and on at the time, and that the dresser in which the police found the laptop had been hers. But she said she never used the computer and only thought that she knew the password to unlock it, which, when she presented it to the court, was not the correct one.

“They’re not my images,” she told defense attorney Melinda Siranian, regarding the pornography.

“You still had access to his house?” Siranian.

“No,” she replied.

“You didn’t have keys?”

“No.”

Siranian and James Quay, who are both representing Houghton, had objected in the first place to the woman testifying, arguing that her statements could easily spark a mistrial, should any of them stray into Houghton’s other alleged offenses, which include molesting a now 10-year-old Concord girl from 2011 to 2012, in addition to raping the relative between 2004 to 2011.

But Judge Larry Smukler allowed the woman to take the stand, an experience that proved emotional for her, as she began tearing up during Siranian’s cross-examination. With some guidance from Siranian, however, she stuck to the alleged offenses at hand.

The state first indicted Houghton in December, and has since piled on two dozen additional charges. The next trial, on the charges regarding the relative, is slated for January.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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