Sex offender’s final N.H. Supreme Court appeal denied

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

  • Robert Magoon leaves Merrimack County Superior Court on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, to attend a site visit at the Pines Community Center in Northfield during the opening of his trial. GEOFF FORESTER

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

Monitor staff
Published: 7/9/2019 3:22:11 PM

A man convicted in three separate trials of sexually assaulting multiple children and an adult woman at the Pines Community Center in Northfield has lost his final appeal before the state’s highest court.

Three New Hampshire Supreme Court justices unanimously denied Robert Magoon’s request for a new trial and affirmed his convictions for aggravated felonious sexual assault and attempted aggravated felonious sexual assault in a decision handed down Tuesday. The ruling comes less than a month after the court heard oral arguments in the case.

In his third and final appeal of his sexual assault convictions, Magoon argued that county prosecutors failed to prove that the disabilities of the 29-year-old woman rendered her incapable of consenting to sex. Further, he said the evidence was insufficient to establish what he knew about her physical and mental limitations.

The high court disagreed Tuesday, finding that the jury could have reasonably concluded that the victim had a disability that rendered her incapable of making a free and independent decision about sexual contact.

“The evidence further establishes that the defendant used simple promises of a snack or of having something to show the victim in order to lure her into a vacant room to engage in sexual penetration. He then told the victim to keep the sexual encounters ‘secret,’ and on at least one occasion, threatened to harm her if she told anyone about the encounter,” the justices wrote. “The jury reasonably could have inferred from such evidence that the defendant both knew and took advantage of the victim’s disability in luring her into a vacant room in order to engage in sexual penetration.”

The woman, who uses a wheelchair and has speech and cognitive difficulties, testified during the 2017 trial that Magoon persuaded her to follow him into a community room with the promise of a doughnut before sexually assaulting her. And each time, he told her not to tell anyone. She kept the secret for years until her mother asked her in 2016 if something ever happened between her and Magoon.

Magoon, 77, of Tilton was found guilty in Merrimack County Superior Court in April 2017 of sexually assaulting the woman at the Pines where he worked for years as a maintenance supervisor. Previously, Magoon had been employed as a police officer in the cities of Concord and Franklin.

Separate juries also convicted Magoon of molesting children who participated in the community center’s before- and after-school programs during a four-year period between 2012 and 2016. Magoon fought his convictions in two other appeals to the state’s highest court and lost.

The adult woman was the first victim to testify against Magoon more than two years ago at his first trial. For approximately eight years, she had been receiving one-on-one support with a direct provider for a few hours a day while her parents were at work. Each morning and evening, she stayed for a short time at the Pines until either her provider or a parent was available to oversee her care.

While defense attorneys questioned on appeal why prosecutors chose not to call a medical expert to help educate jurors about the full scope of the woman’s physical and cognitive limitations, the justices ruled Tuesday that such an expert is not required. They said witness testimony was sufficient to establish that she was born with disabilities that continued into adulthood.

Magoon was sentenced in spring 2018 on all charges and is serving 26 to 52 years in prison.

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


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