Judge rules against telling jury of earlier alleged sex assaults in rape case


LACONIA — The jury hearing evidence in the sexual assault trial of a Belmont man won't get to hear testimony that the complaining witness allegedly told others about the abuse before she was arrested for stealing from the defendant.
Judge James D. O'Neill III ruled from the bench on Monday to uphold his earlier decision that such testimony amounts to hearsay and can not be substantiated, making it inadmissible.
The prosecutor argued such testimony would clearly rebut the defense's theory that the woman had a motive to lie to dodge being imprisoned for stealing jewelry and coins from Steven Price.
Price, 66, is charged with knowingly committing a pattern of sexual assault against the alleged victim between June 14, 1996, and June 13, 2000, over a period of more than two months, but less than five years when she was older than 13 but younger than 16.
Assistant Strafford County Attorney Alysia Cassotis, who is prosecuting the case, said the testimony should be allowed because the crux of the defense "is an absolute reliance on a motive to lie."
Allowing the jury to hear from witnesses who would testify that the alleged victim told them about engaging in sex with Price when she was still a minor, would also explain the reason for the delay in her disclosure.
The prosecutor maintained that the New Hampshire Supreme Court has recognized why victims of sexual assault put off telling anyone they have been abused. In this case, the woman testified that she loved the defendant and that he had also been caring for her son.
In asking the judge to rethink his earlier ruling barring the admission of such testimony, the prosecutor said that the alleged victim's best friend would testify at about age 15 she disclosed that she and Price had been having sex for the past several years.
Based on the defense's theory that the woman invented the accusations to avoid being prosecuted for felony theft, the testimony is necessary to allow the jury to fully access why the alleged disclosures were so late, Cassotis said.
Defense attorney Jim Moir urged the judge to uphold his earlier ruling, arguing the state's request was being made too late as the alleged victim had already testified. The statements the prosecutor wanted to introduce were made out of court, Moir asserted, and as such are hearsay and not admissible.
The prosecutor argued that to rebut the impression created by the defense that the complaining witnesses' testimony was a recent fabrication, evidence that she told the same story before should be admissible, as a prior consistent statement is not hearsay.
The state is predicting that it could wrap up its case tomorrow.

10-25 Steve Price

Steven Price, 66, of Belmont, is on trial in Belknap County Superior Court, charged with having a sexual relationship with a minor girl. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Teenage runaway found in Plymouth, reunited with family

PLYMOUTH — A 15-year-old who ran away from his home in Dorchester Oct. 15 was found by Plymouth police on Monday at noon.

According to a press release, Zander Stockwell was staying in a camper at a home in Plymouth and was found around noon. He was taken into custody and reunited with his family.

– Ginger Kozlowski

BHS volleyball team shows bus driver support

10-25 check presentation

The Belmont High School Girls Volleyball team presented Lisa Kenney, a school bus driver for the school district for the last seven years, with a $466 donation to the Payson Center at Concord Hospital, where she is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Taking part in the presentation at Friday night's game against Franklin High School, were Lindsey Huckins, Shannon Davies, Sam Lugar, Kenney, and Emily Laflam. Kenney, who was diagnosed with cancer last spring, has a son, Hunter, a senior at Belmont High School who plays for the boys soccer and lacrosse teams, and another son, Devon, who graduated from Belmont High School in 2013 and is now attending New York University. (Courtesy photo)