Former community center janitor found guilty of sexually assaulting child

  • Robert Magoon, 74, of Tilton is led away from the Merrimack County Superior Court on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Robert Magoon, 74, of Tilton was convicted Thursday of two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and is led away from the Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, May 11, 2017

One by one, each of the 12 jurors stood. The foreman was the first to break the silence in the Concord courtroom Thursday afternoon.

“Guilty,” he said while facing the defendant, Robert Magoon.

The jury was unanimous on two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. After deliberating for nearly seven hours, the jury had convicted the ex-janitor of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl on multiple occasions at the Pines Community Center in Northfield where he worked.

Upon hearing the verdict, Magoon, 74, of Tilton maintained the same stoic expression he’d shown during much of his two-and-a-half day trial. He was later taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

The victim, now 9, had delivered emotional testimony Monday, telling jurors that Magoon touched her under her pants and shirt on several occasions. The girl was a participant of the Pines’s before-school program, and witnesses said Magoon would invite her to sit on his lap to color.

Prosecutors say the 8-year-old was one of seven girls total whom Magoon assaulted between August 2012 and May 2016 at the community center. Magoon, a former Concord and Franklin police officer, has yet to stand trial on charges involving the other alleged victims.

Witnesses said the girl was often the first child – and almost always the first girl – to arrive at the Northfield community center each weekday. Magoon did not work at the before-school program, but co-workers said it was customary for him to be coloring with children in the game room.

The Pines’s executive director at that time, James “Jim” Doane, had given Magoon an ultimatum in June 2015, telling him to stay out of the game room or he’d be fired. But Doane said he failed to follow up, and other Pines staff said they weren’t concerned about children sitting on the janitor’s lap, because they trusted him.

After months of silence, the 8-year-old came forward in May 2016 with allegations of sexual abuse against Magoon. She said Magoon started touching her shortly after she joined the Pines before-school program in August 2015, but that she was afraid to tell her parents because she thought they’d be mad at her.

“I thought, ‘Why is he touching me there?’ I didn’t know what to do,” the girl testified through tears Monday.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Wayne Coull asked the girl if she could say how many times Magoon touched her.

She replied, “No, because he did it so many times I couldn’t keep track.”

Just last month, a separate jury convicted Magoon of sexually assaulting a now-29-year-old disabled woman confined to a wheelchair. He was found guilty of four of five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault in that case.

A two-hour sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 6 in Concord. As a result of the two jury verdicts, Magoon will be sentenced on a total of six charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault. Each charge carries a penalty of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

Even though two trials have concluded, several sexual assault charges against Magoon remain unresolved. The court will hear from six other children who say Magoon molested them at the community center. It’s unclear at this time whether he will stand trial one final time, or if the charges will be heard separately.

Coull told the court Thursday he plans to file a motion to consolidate the cases into one trial, which is tentatively scheduled to start in September or October. That motion is due June 23, after which a hearing will be held to discuss the issue with attorneys on both sides.

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