Pines sex abuse trial set to begin next spring (630)

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — A former police officer accused of sexually abusing children and a disabled woman waived his right to a speedy trial last week, and a judge has given the prosecutor 30 days to decide whether the state will seek separate trials for each of the alleged child victims or group them into one.

Robert Magoon, 74, of Northfield, is now facing 11 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, two counts of attempted aggravated felonious sexual assault, one count of felonious sexual assault and a misdemeanor charge of simple assault, involving eight alleged victims.

Following a Nov. 4 hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court, Judge Diana Nicolosi said the charges involving the disabled woman will be heard in one trial. If the prosecutor and the defense are unable to reach an agreement on whether the remaining charges will require seven separate trials, she gave the state until late December to file a
motion to consolidate.

Magoon was a part-time maintenance worker at the Pines Community Center in Northfield, which opened the doors for the children while they waited for school buses to pick them up.

Northfield Police Chief John Raffaelly said after receiving a single complaint about Magoon's alleged conduct with children in 2015, police began an investigation, but were unable to get enough evidence to support his
arrest. He said former Pines Director Jim Doane was notified about the accusation and Magoon was allegedly told to not be in the building alone with any children. Doane resigned shortly after Magoon's arrest.

In the wake of Magoon's arrest, the Pines Community Center has revamped its before-school program, added more video surveillance cameras and doesn't allow any children inside the building unless there are two staff members present.

The misdemeanor charge accuses Magoon of causing unprivileged physical contact with a 13 or 14-year-old girl by kissing her on the mouth between June 19, 2015, and Aug. 30, 2015.

The felonious sexual assault charge alleges that he intentionally touched the buttocks of a girl under age 13 for the purpose of sexual gratification between Aug. 31, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2015.

Seven of the aggravated rape charges accuse Magoon of engaging in various sex acts with a young woman who he knew, or had reason to know, had a disability, making her incapable of freely arriving at an independent choice as to whether or not to engage in sexual contact between Jan. 2, 2013, and April 30, 2014.

Five of the six other aggravated felonious sexual assault charges allege that Magoon victimized three other girls under age 13, over a period of more than two months or more and within a period of five years between Aug. 27, 2012, and April 1, 2015; between Aug. 31, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015; between Aug. 26, 2014, and July 13, 2015; and twice between Aug. 31, 2015, and May 12, 2016, and between Aug. 26, 2014, and May 12, 2016.

Initially ordered held on $150,000 cash-only bail, Judge Nicolosi agreed to reduce it to $10,000 on the condition that Magoon be subject to electronic monitoring, that his place of residence be approved by Merrimack County Pretrial Services and that he not live where there was any shared curtilage with any families. He was also ordered to have no contact with the Pines Community Center, any of the alleged victims, or anyone under age 18. He was additionally prohibited from drinking any alcohol.

A status conference in the case is now scheduled to be held in mid-January. Public Defenders Erine Flinchbaugh and Hanna Kinne, who are representing Magoon, have indicated that they plan to challenge the admissibility of statements their client allegedly gave to police.
Judge Nicolosi set a Dec. 15 deadline for the defense to file a motion to suppress. Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Wayne Coull who is prosecuting the case, must file a response by Jan. 10.

A final pretrial hearing is now set or April 14, with a jury to be picked for at least one of the trials on May 1.

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City man charged with drug possession, carrying a machete

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUNLACONIA — City police arrested a local felon Monday morning after he was found walking down a city street carrying a 22-inch Gerber machete concealed along the inside of his leg.

A patrol officer said he located Damon Farris, 25, of 322 Union Ave. #3, whom he had learned was wanted on an electronic bench warrant from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Farris is charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon and one count of possession of narcotics. He is being held in the Belknap County House of Corrections in lieu of $7,500 cash bail.

The officer found Farris walking along Main Street near Hanover Street and detained him because of the warrant. When he asked Farris if he possessed anything that could hurt him, he said Farris lifted his sweatshirt and showed him the handle of the machete.

After removing the machete, the officer asked him if he had anything else that could stick or poke him, like a needle, and Farris allegedly said he had some "dope."

"I didn't even get to use it yet," the affidavit quoted Farris as saying.

Affidavits said the officer found a digital scale in one of Farris's pockets and a small pink plastic bag containing an off-white powder substance, which the officer thought could be heroin.

The Laconia officer took the substance to the Gilford Police Department where tests were performed on the off-white substance and it tested positive for fentanyl or methamphetamine.

Affidavits said that based on the color, texture and consistency, the officer believes it was fentanyl.

Farris, according to affidavits, has been convicted of felony criminal threatening, falsifying criminal evidence, and felony reckless conduct in 2012 and for robbery in July of 2016.

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Flagship company settles employee age discrimination claim

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The one-time Director of Fleet Maintenance for the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation has settled his age discrimination claim against his former employer.

In April 2015, Frederick Nashawaty of Bristol filed suit in U.S. District Court asserting that under the Age Discrimination Employment Act adopted in 1967, he was entitled to twice his back pay, because he was pressured to retire after the WFC reassigned many of his duties to a younger man.

Attorney Joe Driscoll of Laconia, who represents WFC, confirmed the case had been resolved, but declined further comment. Nashawaty's attorney, Leslie Johnson of Sandwich, was similarly closed-mouthed, parroting Driscoll's statement that the matter has been resolved.

In May, the WFC moved for summary judgment, contending that Nashawaty could not prove constructive discharge because he continued to receive his salary, and his complaints were ego issues rather than actionable
discrimination.

In August, Judge Joseph A. DiClerico Jr., denied WFC's motion concluding that enough facts about the case remained in dispute that awarding judgment to the defendant solely on points of law was not
appropriate.

Just days before the trial was to start, the judge allowed Nashawaty to file an additional memorandum on the issue of providing evidence to support a front pay damages award without expert testimony.

Front pay is money awarded for lost wages during the time between judgment and reinstatement, or if reinstatement is not feasible, instead of reinstatement. Similar to back pay, it is essentially the equivalent of lost earnings.

Johnson also moved to supplement that memorandum with an expert report and disclosed two expert witnesses, suggesting that they might be called to testify at trial.

Earlier, Driscoll had moved to bar Johnson from showing the jury a chart outlining the damages she argued her client had suffered, and to exclude Johnson from making any mention of future pay damages.

Among the potential remedies Nashawaty had initially sought was reinstatement to his old position. During a recent hearing, counsel agreed that reinstatement was not available, and that future pay was the appropriate remedy.

Nashawaty sought front pay from the date of judgment until 2029, a 13-year span. He planned to testify that he had intended to work into his seventies, as well as detail the salary and benefits he would have received had he continued with WFC.

Driscoll argued that Nashawaty failed to address his duty to mitigate damages, lacked evidence to support his claim for front pay, and asked the court to exclude testimony by the plaintiff's experts as the defense had no notice until the eve of trial.

The judge held that Nashawaty's proffer of the evidence he would provide to support his claim for front pay damages was sufficient to advance to trial. The burden was on WFC to prove to the jury that Nashawaty, who represented that he has made every effort to find a new job, had not mitigated his damages.

The judge ruled that Nashawaty would be allowed to present his claim for front pay damages to the jury for an advisory verdict. If the jury found in favor of Nashawaty on the age discrimination claim, the jurors would then be asked to provide an advisory verdict of how many years the plaintiff would have continued to work at WFC, if any, and the amount of front pay damages, if any.

The court however, said it would make the final decision on whether damages would be awarded and the amount, after considering the jury's advisory verdict and after the parties had the opportunity to be heard on the front pay issue.

If front pay damages were to be awarded, the judge said, he would reduce them to present-day value.

The parties notified the court that a settlement had been reached on Oct. 28, the same day Judge DiClerico made his ruling.

An agreement for entry of judgment or a stipulation of dismissal must be filed with the court by Dec. 1, or the case will be dismissed with prejudice – which means it cannot be refiled.

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