Jury convicts man of child sexual assault
BENNINGTON — A jury on Friday found Richard McLauchlan guilty of repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old.
McLauchlan, 32, of Bennington, now faces no less than 25 years to life in prison for the first charge and a minimum of 10 years or a maximum of life in prison on the second.
"The jury came back guilty on both counts," Deputy State's Attorney Alexander Burke said following the verdict. "The only comment I can make is that we are pleased with the outcome. I cannot say much more because we are pending sentencing."
He said Friday afternoon that no date had yet been set for the sentencing.
McLauchlan,was arrested in January 2018 and the following month pleaded not guilty to the two felony charges.
The prosecution said charges stemmed from incidents in Bennington between 2015 and 2016.
The girl, now 8, testified on Thursday via video from another room at Superior Court Criminal Division. Her approximately half-hour of testimony was shown to the jurors and the rest of the courtroom on television monitors.
The victim was still hesitant to share information, as she had been during three interviews with an investigator in 2017. But she confirmed that drawings she made in 2017 to depict the abuse were accurate.
McLauchlan declined to testify during the two-day trial. The case went to the jury Thursday but no decision was reached until the next day.
In closing arguments, Burke argued that the victim clearly indicated in all of her statements that she was inappropriately touched, and the only person that ever inappropriately touched her was the defendant.
McLauchlan's attorney, Thomas Enzor, argued that the investigators in the case formed conclusions about the case before they learned the complete story, and that this led to a "slant" in the case against McLauchlan from the beginning.
Enzor also argued that since the victim declined to name specific private body parts, the jury could not come to the conclusion that McLauchlan committed any abuse.
On Wednesday, members of the Albany, N.Y., chapter of the Bikers Against Child Abuse were in the courthouse for the beginning of the McLauchlan trial, showing support for the victim. The group's website said in part that their goal is "to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live."
During the trial Wednesday, jurors listened to multiple witnesses give testimony, including Bennington Police Department Detective Anthony Silvestro, who was the local investigator for the case.
Also testifying were the child's grandmother, with whom she now lives; McLauchlan's ex-girlfriend, who lived with McLauchlan during the timeframe of the alleged abuse; and an out-of-state child abuse investigator who interviewed the victim three times in 2017.
In an affidavit, Silvestro wrote that he was provided with a video recording of an interview between a 7-year-old girl and a child abuse investigator. The child, who now lives out of state, told the investigator that McLauchlan sexually assaulted her several times and that she did not feel safe near him.
The child described one incident in which McLauchlan took her to the doctor to be treated for her injuries, and he told doctors she had fallen over a fence. The child said McLauchlan "was trying to trick the doctors," the affidavit states.
When interviewed by police in November 2017, McLauchlan denied any wrongdoing.
Banner staff reporter Christie Wisniewski contributed reporting.
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