MONTPELIER >> The prosecutor in Vermont state Sen. Norman McAllister's aborted rape trial said Tuesday his accuser lied once in her testimony when asked about her relationship to another man, and expressed remorse immediately afterward.
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Deputy State's Attorney Diane Wheeler provided the clearest details yet on why she dropped two felony sexual assault charges against the Franklin County Republican.
McAllister faces four other charges, involving two other accusers, in a separate trial expected to be held in the fall. The most serious is sexual assault, which could bring a life sentence.
Kelly Woodward, a victim advocate in Wheeler's office, was giving the 21-year-old accuser in the recent trial a ride from the courthouse to the state's attorney's office, where the accuser had parked her car, Wheeler said.
The accuser revealed to the advocate that a short time earlier on the witness stand, she lied when she denied befriending and kissing a man she worked with on McAllister's farm, Wheeler said.
"That's the only thing she lied about in this whole case," Wheeler said. "She didn't want anybody knowing her business. That (the kiss) wasn't what this trial was about in her own mind."
But after the trial's first day on June 15 was over, "it weighed on her enough to tell us the truth. That's all we encourage people to do," the prosecutor said.
Wheeler said on hearing of the lie, she was ethically bound to tell defense lawyers about it. She knew it could damage the accuser's credibility in the eyes of the jury.
The accuser's credibility already was under severe strain after a tough afternoon of cross examination in which defense lawyer David Williams was able to point out numerous inconsistencies between her sworn statements to police and in pretrial depositions.
Lawyers for the 64-year-old McAllister maintained those inconsistencies were the real reason the state dropped the charges, an assertion that Wheeler disputed Tuesday.
Related to the separate trial this fall, one of the two accusers has died since McAllister's arrest outside the Statehouse in May of 2015.
Wheeler said charges related to the dead woman's allegations likely would have been dropped, except the state has a recording of a phone call between her and McAllister that it will enter into evidence.