Compentency questioned

Pines Community Center custodian Magoon’s rape case hinges on his health

By BEA LEWIS, for The Laconia Daily Sun

NORTHFIELD — A 74-year-old man accused of sexually abusing a disabled woman and molesting seven children while working as a janitor at a local community center is scheduled to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Robert Magoon, 74, who now lives in Boscawen is scheduled to stand trial in April on charges alleging that he isolated a wheelchair-bound woman in a separate room at The Pines community center and repeatedly sexually abused her. The allegations involving seven children that range in age from 7 to 13 will follow, most likely in two separate trials. Magoon remains free after posting $10,000 cash bail on the condition he wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, and have no contact with children.

On Jan. 18, Judge Diane M. Nicolosi granted a motion filed under seal asking the court to approve the hiring of a forensic psychiatrist. Typically, a forensic psychiatrist is called upon to evaluate a person in order to determine their mental state ahead of a trial. If they find that the defendant cannot fully grasp the charges they're facing,
or are not in any condition to help their lawyer mount a defense, they may be found incompetent to stand trial.

This judgment is based on the interpretation of the Fifth Amendment, allowing a defendant to be present at their trial, face and challengetheir accusers and help their attorney defend against the charges.

As part of the examination, a forensic psychiatrist will make adiagnostic assessment about a defendant's mental state, and then make a recommendation about whether any treatment may help them overcome their problems.

If treatment is recommended, a judge can order the defendant to comply. If within 12 months a follow-up evaluation shows no improvement, a defendant may be found "non-restorable," prompting dismissal of the criminal charges.

A defendant may still face involuntary commitment to the secure psychiatric unit of the New Hampshire State Hospital, however, if a court rules they pose a danger to themselves or the public.

Some forms of dementia can cause people to become sexually disinhibited. According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, inappropriate sexual behavior can be one of the symptoms of its onset. Damage in the front and temporal lobes of the brain can disrupt a person's ability to control their impulses.

In asking a judge to order a separate trial for the charges involving the disabled woman, Prosecutor Wayne Coull said the alleged assaults against her were "much more severe in nature" than those involving the children, and occurred in a different part of the community center during a different time of day.

In urging the court not to reduce Magoon's bail, Coull disclosed that in July 2015 a similar complaint was lodged against Magoon "that was apparently handled by the police merely speaking with the Director of the Pines, who in turn warned the defendant not to touch children. That incident was correctly re-investigated after the new disclosures, and resulted in an indictment."

While such a warning, Coull said, would prompt any "normal" person working in an environment with children to avoid any future contact which would be remotely construed as inappropriate, Magoon's behavior not only continued but seemed to have increased, demonstrating that his compulsion to engage in sexual contract with children is something he cannot control.

Defense Attorney Catherine Flinchbaugh concurred with the state that it makes sense to hold a second trial in early May to hear the charges involving one child who has accused Magoon of touching her genital area beneath her clothes. The remaining victims allege the defendant fondled them through their clothing.

At issue is whether the testimony of seven children would in and of itself be so prejudicial in sheer volume as to sway a jury to convict. The state believes the children should be able to testify in one trial to show that Magoon's conduct was intentional, not just a mistake or accident.

Given his age and status as a retired police officer, Coull asserts that Magoon seems unassuming and inoffensive. It would be easy, he maintains, for the defense to portray at trial his acts were mistaken conduct – just a misunderstanding accidental act by a kindly, older, gentlemen being nice to children.

The prosecutor suggests the defense may also try to suggest to the jury that Magoon didn't know that his conduct was inappropriate. That trial strategy makes the charge involving the oldest allegation, "exceedingly relevant" to all the other cases, because in that instance he was warned to not have any contact with children, Coull wrote.

Last August, a Merrimack County grand jury returned 11 indictments charging Magoon with aggravated felonious sexual assault, one count of felonious sexual assault, two counts of attempted felonious sexual
assault and one count of simple assault. Given his age, were Magoon to be convicted of just one of the charges the resulting prison term would be a de facto life sentence.

01-24 Robert Magoon enters court
Robert Magoon enters the Concord Circuit Court last May for a bail hearing. (Bea Lewis/For The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Vote twice

As Shaker switches to SB2, Canterbury must vote both at home and in Belmont


BELMONT/CANTERBURY — Voters in Canterbury will have to make two trips to separate polls on March 14 when they go to cast ballots for their town and school officials this year.

With the passage of official ballot voting, or SB2, at last year's Shaker Regional School District Meeting, a temporary monkey wrench has been thrown into the mechanics by which Canterbury voters will cast their school ballots this year.

As it stands right now, there is only one official polling place for the school district and that is in Belmont.

Canterbury residents will still need to make the trip to Belmont High School to vote on the school district's candidates and warrant articles on March 14, as well as voting in Canterbury on town candidates and articles.

School District Administrator Debbie Thompson said that because Shaker is a regional school district, provisions in the petitioned warrant article that converted the traditional School District Meeting to the format of a deliberative session and a separate voting day, should have added a provision that Canterbury voters could vote in the school district election in their own town.

The school district has included an article (#7) on this year's warrant that will authorize the elections of officers and official ballot voting by ballot and at a polling place in each town. Should it pass, in 2018 ballot voting for the school district will take place in each town.

What this means for this year is that at the Belmont High School polling place there will be two separate sets of supervisors of the checklist and ballot clerks, said Belmont Town Clerk/Tax Collector Cynthia DeRoy.

Since Belmont is also an SB2 ballot community, Belmont voters should be familiar with the process and DeRoy said each registered Belmont voter will get a town ballot and a school district ballot.

She said the town of Belmont will have its polls open during the traditional time on local Election Day, which is March 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and there will be a table for same-day registration for Belmont voters.

In addition, said Canterbury Town Clerk Tax Collector Ben Bynum, his town will have a table for its supervisors of the checklist in Belmont also to facilitate same-day registration for Canterbury voters.

Canterbury is not an SB2 town, meaning they vote only for elected officials by ballot on March 14 and hold a traditional Town Meeting with voting at the same time on Friday, March 17, 7 p.m. at Canterbury Elementary School.

The school district will have its clerks at Belmont High School and has purchased a voting machine that will accommodate school district ballots only.

There will be one joint deliberative session of School District Meeting for Belmont and Canterbury on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m., at Belmont High School.

DeRoy said the ballots will be different colors and that each machine has its own programming such that if a ballot inadvertently gets put in wrong machine, it will be separated and collected at the end of the night.

"All counting of school district ballots will be at Belmont High School," said DeRoy.


Participate in your voting:

Deliberative session of Shaker School District Meeting: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 6 p.m., Belmont High School

Shaker School District elections and voting on warrants: Tuesday, March 14, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Belmont High School

Canterbury Town Meeting: Friday, March 17, 7 p.m., Canterbury Elementary School

Deliberative session of Belmont Town Meeting: Saturday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m., Belmont High School

Belmont elections and voting on warrants: Tuesday, March 14, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Belmont High School


Laconia medical director, killed in house fire, mourned

01 25 dr youngs killed in fire

Dr. Steven Youngs entered medical training after a career in environmental science and hydrogeology. Before his death early Sunday morning in a house fire, he served as medical director at HealthFirst Family Care Center Inc. (Courtesy photo)


LACONIA — Colleagues are mourning the loss of award-winning local family health physician Steven Youngs, who died in a house fire at his home in Webster Sunday morning.
Dr. Youngs, 61, of Webster, died of smoke inhalation in the early morning fire, according to the state medical examiner. His death was ruled accidental.
"He was beloved by staff and patients alike," said Rick Silverberg, executive director of the HealthFirst Family Care Center Inc., a federally qualified health center based in Franklin and Laconia where Youngs served as medical director for nine years. "This is a tremendous tragedy for us, his family and the community."
Youngs was a "second career" physician who entered medical training after pursuing a career in environmental science and hydrogeology.
"He was 41 when he went back to medical school," recalled Silverberg. "He had talked to me about that several times. He found that when he was an engineer that he liked working with people more than things."
In 2005, when Youngs graduated the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, he won the Jack Parfitt Award as a student of osteopathic medicine. The award honors a graduating physician "who best exemplified some of the characteristics that Jack Parfitt had," such as involvement in the community and a spirit of discovery, according to Barry Gendron, president of the board of the New Hampshire Osteopathic Association. The award — given in memory of John W. Parfitt, an osteopathic physician who practiced in Manchester in the early years of osteopathic medicine — recognizes not only excellence in academics but also work outside the classroom.
Osteopathic medicine, which focuses on health promotion and disease prevention by looking at the whole patient, became a passion for Youngs, Gendron said.
As a board member for the New Hampshire Osteopathic Association, Youngs contributed to furthering education and improving the quality of health care, he said.
"On a personal level, he was really a gentle man. When he spoke, people listened. So it's a huge loss for his family especially, but for his colleagues as well in Laconia and Franklin and for all of us involved in osteopathic medicine in New Hampshire," Gendron said.
Youngs believed in working with the whole person through traditional approaches such as medication but also through diet, exercise, lifestyle and support from family and medical providers, Silverberg said.
"He had a really caring and compassionate way of dealing with all of his patients," Silverberg said.
Dr. Youngs was licensed for the use of Suboxone, a common drug used in management of opioid addiction, and he helped start the first Suboxone treatment program at HealthFirst, Silverberg said.
"Steven wanted to be able to help our existing patients so he went and received that special training," he said.
"Steven was also our champion and primary person in the medical group for learning new programs and working with different illnesses," Silverberg said.
As the medical director, Youngs had about 1,000 patients of his own and supervised the rest of the staff, with responsibility for the more than 8,000 patients who use the health center, Silverberg said.
A member of the clinical faculty at the University of New England, Youngs trained both pre-medical and medical students in the clinic.
Gendron said Youngs also was key in establishing the family practice student program at Lakes Region General Hospital, a program for students from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. "He spent time there weekly working with the students. So he was not only a great physician but he was a great teacher as well," Gendron said.
"He really was the consummate physician in terms of being extremely holistic in caring for his patients," he said.
Based on his decision to pursue his field later in life, Youngs may have approached osteopathic medicine with more maturity, Gendron said.
Silverberg said, "He always had an attitude of the patients come first and we're here to serve our patents."
Youngs is mourned by his family, including his wife, Susan, and three daughters.
"The fire was called in at a house on Little Hill Road just before 3 a.m.," WMUR-TV reported. "Officials said there were nine people in the home, as the homeowners had company over for the night." All others escaped the burning home, some by climbing out windows, the station reported.
HealthFirst Family Care Center Inc., which maintains its Laconia office at 22 Strafford St., is notifying patients of the loss of their medical director. Those with appointments scheduled have been contacted and rescheduled with another medical provider, Silverberg said. The center is working to bring in other providers in the short term and will start searching for a long-term replacement, he said.

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