Prosecutor requests single trial in six cases pending against Pines ex-janitor

  • Robert Magoon is led away in handcuffs on April 7, 2017, after a jury finds him guilty of sexually assaulting a disabled woman at the Pines Community Center in Northfield.

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

Monitor staff
Sunday, June 25, 2017

A county prosecutor is asking a judge to consolidate the six remaining sexual assault cases against a former Pines Community Center janitor to allow for one trial.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Wayne Coull said that if ex-janitor Robert Magoon were to stand trial in each of the six cases separately, the matter could remain open for two to three more years.

“Further, it is in the interests of justice to resolve this case in an expeditious process because it involves children as victims,” Coull said, arguing that one trial will minimize the risk of future trauma for children who have already endured so much.

Magoon, 74, of Tilton has previously been convicted on six counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, for separate incidents involving two different victims: one adult and one child. Magoon, who previously also worked as a police officer in Concord and Franklin, is being held without bail as a result of his convictions this spring.

In the most recent trial this May, a girl, now 9, told jurors that Magoon would touch her under her pants and shirt during the Pines’s before-school program. She said the abuse happened on more than one occasion while she sat on Magoon’s lap to color.

A separate jury convicted Magoon in April of sexually assaulting a now-29-year-old disabled woman confined to a wheelchair, also at the Pines in Northfield. His attorneys are now arguing that two of his four felony sexual assault convictions in that case should be overturned, claiming that the record of the woman’s testimony is not specific and clear enough to support a guilty finding.

Coull has objected to the defense’s motion, while simultaneously pushing for one trial on several sexual assault charges still pending against Magoon.

In his motion to consolidate, Coull identifies similarities between the cases and Magoon’s alleged victims, all children ranging in age from 7 to 13. Coull notes that the charged acts occurred between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. while students waited for transportation to school, and that the alleged abuse was carried out in the game room, where Magoon went after finishing his janitorial duties.

“The abuse consisted of a pattern of fondling of the children’s private areas underneath the children’s clothing,” Coull said, adding that Magoon would provide gifts and money to his favorites.

Coull said each case has many of the same witnesses, including current and former Pines employees, a forensic interviewer from the Merrimack County Advocacy Center and Northfield police.

“If the charges are not joined these individuals would need to duplicate their testimony at six separate trials at significant time and expense,” he said.

Because of a child’s decision to come forward, Coull said, police reached out to the parents of other female children to inquire about their experiences at the Pines and their interactions with Magoon. He said preventing witnesses from testifying about that part of the investigation “would create an irrational narrative for the jury leaving them to ponder as to why the police randomly contacted families to inquire about the sexual assault of their children.”

Magoon is next scheduled to stand trial this fall, but that could change depending on whether the six cases are consolidated.

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