N.H. Supreme Court upholds ex-Community Pines janitor conviction

  • Robert Magoon, 75, 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: 5/21/2019 2:03:11 PM

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld the sexual assault convictions of a retired police officer who worked as a janitor at the Pines Community Center.

Robert Magoon, of Tilton, was ultimately convicted on four out of six charges after jurors heard from six different girls who said Magoon sexually assaulted them between August 2012 and May 2016 during the Northfield community center’s before- and after-school programs.

Magoon’s lawyer Stephanie Hausman tried to argue that a trial judge’s decision to consolidate six individual cases against him into one trial was unfair and gave county prosecutors the upper hand.

But N.H. Supreme Court Associate Justice’s James Bassett, Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi and Patrick Donovan wrote in a May 21 order that it was reasonable to try the six cases at once because the cases shared similar elements, including the type of victims, how the defendant acted, where and when the crimes were committed and who investigated and witnesses the offenses.

“We cannot say that the trial court’s decision to join the charges was clearly untenable or unreasonable to the prejudice of the defendant’s case,” the justices wrote.

“Each offense occurred in the same location and at the same general time of day when the defendant, who had no employment-related reason to be in that location, and who had twice been told by community center personnel to stay away from it, would be present and would interact with young girls.”

Justices also found that the trial court’s directions to jurors to consider the credibility of each victim separately would prevent them from making additional convictions based on prior convictions.

The order touches on one of two appeals Magoon has before the state’s Supreme Court. Magoon is also appealing his conviction for sexually assaulting a wheelchair-bound woman, also at the Pines.

Justices also upheld a different conviction last October, where Magoon was found to have sexually assaulted an 8-year-old girl in the Pine’s game room while she sat on his lap to color. Prosecutors said because of the girl’s decision to come forward, police reached out to the parents of other children to inquire about their experiences at the Pines and their interactions with Magoon, which led to additional disclosures.

Magoon is currently serving 26 to 52 years in prison.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com.)

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