Report: McAllister considering withdrawing plea deal

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Former state Sen. Norm McAllister reportedly is considering withdrawing the plea agreement he signed Tuesday on the eve of his second trial on sexual assault allegations.

McAllister, 65, reached by phone Wednesday at his Highgate Center home, declined to answer questions and hung up. His defense attorney Brooks McArthur did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Local NBC affiliate Channel 5 is reporting that McAllister said in an interview with reporter Stewart Ledbetter that he's considering withdrawing the plea and firing his legal team.

The former Republican Franklin County lawmaker reached the deal late Tuesday, pleading no contest to two counts of prohibited acts and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct. Those charges carry a combined maximum sentence of seven years in prison and up to $500 in fines. McAllister would have to register as a sex offender as part of the agreement, according to multiple media reports. He remains free on conditions.

McAllister was scheduled to stand trial Wednesday in a case that centered on accusations he repeatedly sexually assaulted a woman who was living in a trailer on his farm property. It was described as a sex-for-rent scheme.

A previous sexual assault trial in June ended when the state dropped its charges because McAllister's accuser in that case perjured herself on a detail.

In exchange for his plea, the Franklin County state's attorney's office dropped the more serious charge of sexual assault, which carried a maximum sentence of life in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.

McAllister can change his plea anytime prior to his sentencing hearing, Franklin County State's Attorney Jim Hughes told NBC-5. VTDigger was not able to reach Hughes for comment.

At his sentencing hearing, a judge will determine McAllister's punishment based on the statutory guidelines and arguments from the state and his defense team.

McAllister was arrested outside the Statehouse at the end of the 2015 session and suspended by his Senate colleagues a year ago. He lost a bid for re-election in the August primary.

The former lawmaker still faces a civil suit from his accuser in this week's criminal case. It seeks damages for the alleged sexual mistreatment and subpar living conditions in the farm trailer.

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