Six children alleging abuse by ex-janitor will testify at one trial

  • Robert Magoon, 75, of Tilton arrives for his sentencing hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord on Friday, July 28, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ

Monitor staff
Monday, September 25, 2017

A judge has consolidated into one trial six separate sexual assault cases still pending against an ex-janitor and police officer who was previously convicted of molesting a young girl under similar circumstances.

Robert Magoon, 75, of Tilton faces four counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, and one count each of felonious sexual assault and simple assault. He is accused of having inappropriate contact with girls at the Pines Community Center in Northfield where he worked as a maintenance supervisor for 15 years. The girls were between the ages of 6 and 13 at the time.

A Merrimack County jury convicted Magoon in May of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl on more than one occasion while she sat on his lap to color in the community center’s game room. Prosecutors allege the Northfield Police Department’s investigation of that case led authorities to several other children who said they were also assaulted by Magoon while enrolled in the center’s before-school program.

“Based on the language of the relevant charging documents, as well as the representations made by both parties, the Court finds that the factors weigh strongly in favor of joining for trial the six remaining offenses against Mr. Magoon,” Judge John Kissinger Jr. wrote in a 16-page order handed down Friday.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Wayne Coull requested this summer that the court consolidate the six cases into one trial. Defense attorneys Hanna Kinne and Catherine Flinchbaugh objected, arguing one trial would create an unfair prejudice against Magoon and bolster the state’s case overall. Each side had an opportunity to argue for or against consolidation at a motions hearing held Aug. 10 in Concord.

Kissinger spoke to the defense’s concerns in his ruling Friday.

“The Court is mindful of the danger that the credibility of one or more alleged victim will be used improperly to bolster the credibility of other alleged victims,” he wrote.

As a result, he continued, the court will take additional precautions such assemble “a larger than usual jury pool,” permit extended questioning of perspective jurors and give attorneys posing those questions more latitude. Attorneys will also work with the judge to accommodate any concerns by crafting very specific jury instructions that require consideration of each charge independently from the others.

Kissinger ordered that a scheduling conference with attorneys be held soon to determine the earliest possible trial date.

In the meantime, Magoon has asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to review his convictions from this past May. A jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, alleging Magoon touched the 8-year-old under her pants and shirt on several occasions.

A month earlier, a separate jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a disabled woman confined to a wheelchair, also at the Pines. He was found guilty of four counts of aggravated sexual assault following a multi-day trial in Concord.

Magoon, who previously also worked as a police officer in Concord and Franklin, was sentenced in July to 25 to 60 years in state prison on four of his six convictions. He had asked a judge to set aside guilty verdicts on two sexual assault charges involving the adult victim, but that request was recently denied.

If his sentence stands, Magoon won’t be eligible for parole until he is 100 years old.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)