One of the women accusing Franklin County State Sen. Norman McAllister of sexual assault now claims he shut off her water and cut her utilities in order to evict her from a dilapidated trailer in which she’d been living on his property, according to court documents made public on Monday.
The woman is accusing McAllister of “illegal eviction,” according to a Franklin County civil court filing dated March 23.
But in a phone interview with VPR on Monday, McAllister said the temporary water shut off and utility outage wasn’t intentional, but was the result of a mechanical problem that he fixed once he learned about it.
The woman is also accusing McAllister of a new count of “willful human trafficking” connected to her arrangement with the senator to work on his farm in exchange for money and housing, according to the her lawyer, Andrew Montroll.
She’s one of three women who have accused McAllister of criminal sexual assault, leading to the Republican’s arrest at the Statehouse in May 2015, and to his suspension from the state Senate in January. VPR does not use the names of victims in sexual assault cases.
McAllister has pleaded not guilty to those criminal charges and maintains his innocence.
The woman whom the senator has been trying to evict is also suing him in civil court, but that case is being put on hold until the criminal case is resolved.
On Feb. 12, McAllister filed an eviction complaint in Franklin County civil court in an effort to get the woman off his property. She had been living in a trailer on his land and working on his goat farm as part of an employment contract. But McAllister ended that contract in April 2013 and gave her a “reasonable time” to move out, according to his filing.
On Monday, McAllister maintained the woman and her partner who were living in the trailer on his property “never paid any rent.” In an interview with VPR last month, McAllister suggested the sexual assault charges against him only came about after he started asking the woman for rent payments.
But in her March 23 response to McAllister’s eviction complaint, the woman rejects his version of events. According to the document, she acknowledges she had a work contract, but suggests she was not fired in April 2013 and continued working for him after that.
And in a civil suit filed in September 2015, the woman claims McAllister paid her $300 a week to work on the farm, but also deducted half of that for rent. On Monday, McAllister declined to explain the discrepancy between his version of events and the woman’s, saying it would become clear during his upcoming criminal trial.
According to her original civil complaint, the woman first learned of the job on McAllister’s farm from a Craigslist ad offering employment and housing. She had recently lost custody of her children and had just been kicked out of a battered women’s shelter, it said.
She “reluctantly acquiesced” to McAllister’s sexual demands because she needed a job and somewhere to live, the complaint says. It also claims McAllister promised to use his position as a state lawmaker to help her get her children back from state custody.
When the woman said she wanted to stop having sex with McAllister, he suggested she’d “need to find other living arrangements,” according to the complaint.
It also says McAllister coerced her into having sex with a stranger, in exchange for the man paying McAllister. The senator allegedly said the money would be used toward her rent.
“Plaintiff hated this,” according to the complaint.
When asked about the new human trafficking claim against him, McAllister said the sex-for-money schemes were the woman’s idea, not his.
“My words were, ‘If I got involved with something like that, I’d make the front page,’” he said Monday. “I said, ‘I’m not doing anything like that.’”
As of the March 23 filing, the woman was still living in the trailer on McAllister’s farm, despite his efforts to evict her. But on Monday, neither McAllister nor Montroll, the woman’s lawyer, were sure whether she was still staying in the trailer.
Update 12:57 p.m. This story has been updated to include comments from Sen. Norm McAllister.