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Is a former Vt. senator reconsidering his plea deal in sex crime - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is a former Vt. senator reconsidering his plea deal in sex crime case?

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. -

The sex crimes case against a former state senator may not be over despite last night's plea deal. Former Senator Norm McAllister refused to take questions Tuesday night, and would not answer his door when WCAX knocked Wednesday.

But prosecutors did acknowledge the possibility Tuesday's deal could fall apart and sources say McAllister is reconsidering his decision.

Sources close to McAllister tell us he's reconsidering a plea bargain made with prosecutors one day earlier. Even as he made the deal, the former senator appeared unhappy with the arrangement.

Without his 'no contest' pleas, McAllister's trial would have begun Wednesday. Allegations included raping a woman who lived and worked on his farm, partially forgiving back rent in return for sex, and prostituting her out to other men.
     
He faced a life sentence but now will spend seven years behind bars at most.

Prosecutors wouldn't field questions Tuesday night, but Franklin County State's Attorney Jim Hughes tells us the compromise means justice for victims.

"We try to avoid having to go to trial because of uncertainties of what can happen in the pressure of the courtroom, during a trial and when the jury's deliberating we want to have a sure result," said Hughes. 

A previous case involving a different alleged victim fell apart at trial in June and a third accuser passed away before her case could make it to court.

When WCAX knocked on the door, former Sen. McAllister approached, but he waved us off after recognizing us, indicating he didn't want to talk. We did chat with a tenant of his who lives next door though. She says the allegations could not be done by McAllister, that's not the man she knows.

"I'm hoping that this plea deal goes forward so that we can put closure to this kind of dark cloud on the state Senate's history," said Sen Joe Benning, R-Caledonia County. 

The McAllister scandal continues to be felt among McAllister's former peers, especially the small Republican caucus.

Senator Joe Benning says new policies and training for lawmakers should help prevent a similar case and could make ridding the Senate of an alleged offender easier.

Sen. Peg Flory, R-Rutland County, says the body acted inappropriately when they suspended McAllister last year before his day in court even if he ends up behind bars.

"I'm not sure we have the right to either expel or suspend," said Flory. "I strongly believe in the presumption of innocence."

McAllister declined to comment when we reached him by phone. His lawyers did not get back to us on whether Tuesday pleas will truly be withdrawn.

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