(08.11.11) 11:20 AM: Since many of you aren't privileged enough to see McGowan in action, here's some clips of the now anti-immigrant/convicted rapist in action.
* You can view his last appearance on local access TV by clicking here.
* From happier times, here's anti-immigrant McGowan wearing a Uncle Sam outfit yelling at immigrant rights supporters, and desecrating a Mexican flag at an immigration march, Main Street, Danbury 2006 (McGowan was the co-founder, former Vice President of the Greater Danbury anti-immigration hate group United States Citizens for Immigration Control and Law Enforcement.)
* Here's a video montage a made back in 2007 of McGowan's out of control xenophobic behavior when he co-hosted a show with fellow anti-immigrant extremist Tom Big(o)T Bennett. McGowan's comment happens at 7:57 mark of the video WARNING: Some of the comments made by McGowan and Bennett are EXTREMELY disturbing.
...and here's McGowan agreeing with Bennett when the local access goof-ball threatened my life on the air over exposing the comments he made on TV.
I can go on and on but I think you get the point...
(08.11.11) 11:15 AM: Just want to welcome readers who found their way to my site from other media outlets. I'll almost done transcribing other moments from he trial yesterday that went un-reported in the press. Also, in fairness to McGowan supporters, I'll give my take on their stance on the case (which by the way are very legitimate).
(08.11.11) 11:00 AM:News-Times cover...
(08.11.11) 10:45 AM: McGowan story just went national. Associated Press (Boston Herald):
A talk show host on public access cable television in Bethel who once ran for Danbury mayor has been convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 2008.
A six-person jury in Litchfield Superior Court convicted 45-year-old John McGowan on Wednesday of first-degree sexual assault, which carries two to 20 years in prison. Sentencing was set for Oct. 21.
McGowan was detained after a judge raised his bond to more than $32,000.
AP story was also picked up by the Norwich Bulletin, WTNH, Norwalk Hour, San Antonio Express News, Providence Journal, New York Newsday...
9:40 PM: Senior Assistant State’s Attorney David Shannon spoke to the media after the verdict (via Register-Citizen)
“I think the key was that the medical records showed injuries to (the victim), which corroborated her version of the story and conflicted with McGowan’s version of the story,” Shannon said after Wednesday’s verdict.
9:15 PM: When I reflect on this case, this quote from President Lincoln pretty much comes to mind...
"He who represents himself has a fool for a client." - Abraham Lincoln
In short, from day one, McGowan was his own worse enemy in this case. Notwithstanding his pre-trial antics (for instance, here, here, and here) although he kept his strange behavior to a minimum, McGowan's lack of legal experience was apparent from the start of the trial with his awful line of questioning, weak defense, and numerous missed opportunities to poke legitimate holes in the prosecution's case, which could have resulted in this case ending in a different outcome.
In many ways, McGowan did more to convict himself in the eyes of the jury than what the prosecution did...
8:30 PM: The News-Times and Yours Truly weren't the only people on hand reporting on the trial. The Register-Citizen has been at most of the trial with The Waterbury Republican on the scene once opening statements started.
Yesterday's account on the closing statements from the prosecution and McGowan by the Register-Citizen was spot on:
Here's the prosecution's closing:
McGowan’s defense revolved around the subject of consent. The victim testified that a game of strip poker turned into increasingly violent oral sex.
The victim said she tried to escape, but was restrained and forcibly sodomized by McGowan. While McGowan did not deny that the two had sex, he said the sex was consensual.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney David Shannon insisted the jury be informed, when they were charged with the law by Judge James P. Ginocchio, that consent can be given and then withdrawn during a specific sexual event.
“She (the victim) stated initially intercourse was consensual, but after it became rough it was not,” Shannon said in his closing argument, adding that the victim testified she is still fearful of McGowan.
“Her story was corroborated by the medical records, by Mr. McGowan himself, and by the physical injuries sustained,” he said.
“When you look at the case, the fact is that consent can be withdrawn,” Shannon said.
If the victim consented to some sexual activity and withdrew her consent by screaming, saying “stop,” or crying, that is enough to reach a verdict of guilty for sexual assault, according to Shannon.
He asked the jury to set sympathies aside and not to think about McGowan’s decision to represent himself while searching for a verdict.
Shannon then questioned the relevance of McGowan’s witnesses.
“Consider that none of these women who testified had ever had a sexual relationship with him. They all testified they were friends,” Shannon said. “This is not a stranger rape case. Did they really know him in that aspect?”
In the end, the case came down to credibility, specifically the victim’s, according to Shannon.
McGowan's closing argument:
McGowan began his closing argument by questioning the evidence.
“If she was allegedly non-consenting and allegedly fighting, doesn’t it make sense that she would keep on scratching and doing something to keep me away?” McGowan said.
During the examinations at the hospital, the victim’s fingernails were scraped.
“They found absolutely nothing under them. That speaks volumes to her not putting up a struggle,” McGowan said. “You can go into the hospital and complain about everything under the sun, but what it comes down to is the doctor’s report did not back up what she was complaining about.”
McGowan addressed his reasoning behind self-representation.
“If I hired a lawyer, I would be showing the entire world that I have something to hide, that I need that person for something to hide behind,” he said. “I am fighting for myself, the way it should be.”
McGowan also questioned the victim’s lack of injury during his argument.
“I don’t know anybody that hasn’t had a rug burn just from the slightest pressure and movement on it… The doctor’s papers showed not one single injury on her,” he said.
McGowan reminded the jury that doctors were not able to confirm if the injuries were consistent with sexual assault.
Moreover, McGowan said the victim had tried to contact him following the incident, something not consistent with terror or fear of your life.
“The prosecution proved I am innocent. You’ll find that there was no probable cause… I had sexual relations with a woman I planned to marry. The state has failed to prove its burden, ” he said.
During Shannon’s rebuttal, he reminded the jury the victim testified she took a shower every day.
“Would you expect to find those things if she had showered at least twice before she went to the hospital?” Shannon said of the lack of evidence under her fingernails.
Shannon questioned why the victim might not have scratched McGowan or fought back.
“If you’re in that position, someone more than 200 pounds bigger than you, at a remote house with no power or telephone, are you obligated to fight back? Is that a safe thing to do?” Shannon said.
Prosecutor's final words...
Shannon paraphrased a Mark Twain quote while concluding his closing arguments.
“We are all like the moon; we all have a dark side and we don’t show it to anybody,” Shannon said. “On that night, his dark side came out. He did what he did, and did it without consent. If you base your decisions on the evidence, then the only verdict is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
8:00 PM: Here's the best transcription I could make of the moment when the verdict was announced (the jury informed the court that they were ready to give a verdict around 2:55. Court resumed at aprox. 3:04.
Roll call of the jury was conducted: 7 People, (2 Women, 5 Men). There were two alternates (1 man, 1 woman) but they were no longer needed once the deliberations started.
Court Clerk: Mr. McGowan, please rise and face the jury.
(McGowan rises and faces the jury).
Court Clerk: "As to the long formed information charging the defendant with sexual assault in the first degree by way of anal sexual intercourse, in violation of Connecticut State Statue 53a-70, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty.
Jury foreman: Guilty.
Clerk: "…as to the long formed information charging the defendant with sexual assault in the first degree by way of anal sexual intercourse, you said that the defendant is guilty. So say Mr. Foreperson so say you all."
I'm still working on transcribing my chicken scratch and will have the rough transcript of the prosecution's request for an increase in bond.
UPDATE 6:35PM: McGowan's Sovereign citizen movement ilk spoke to the News-Times:
Outside the court after the jury's verdict, two of McGowan's supporters -- Michelle Scalpi of New York and Chris Salonia of Meriden -- bitterly questioned the jury's decision.
"I don't think that the jury was hearing what I was hearing,'' Scalpi said. "I was hearing that there was no evidence, except a woman's word.''
Scalpi and Salonia said they think that the state was unable to produce any physical evidence that the heavy-set McGowan forcibly sodomized Doe.
"This is a 300-pound guy, but there were no bruises?'' Salonia said. "There were no scratches, no bruises, no rug burns. If you have sex on a rug, you get rug burns.''
...lets just say that "senator" Salonia's laughable testimony during the trial didn't help McGowan's case.
Another of McGowan’s witnesses, therapist and holistic health counselor Chris Salonia, was disallowed as an expert witness following questions from senior assistant state’s attorney David Shannon about her training. Salonia is currently waiting to testify as an expert witness in a civil suit against the estate of Dr. George Reardon, who allegedly molested hundreds of boys while working as a doctor, and St. Francis Hospital, where Dr. Reardon worked as an endocrinologist.
Responding to questions about her background as a therapist, Salonia claimed that “Western medicine has not found the way to healing” when it comes to sexual assault trauma. Instead, Salonia described pharmaceutical remedies as “chemotherapy” in contrast to her practice of rebirthing and emotional freedom techniques.
“Prozac and alcohol are chemotherapy?” asked Shannon.
“Yes, they’re chemical therapy,” Salonia responded.
Salonia was eventually permitted as a character witness after Judge James P. Ginocchio ruled that her experience treating post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as drug and alcohol dependency, would not make her suited to be an expert witness. Additionally, Salonia stated she would testify that the injuries described by Doe were inconsistent with sexual assault, but Ginocchio ruled that was a medical question for medical experts.
“What I would be testifying to is when you’re sexually assaulted from behind, it’s not how she described,” Salonia said. “You would need to have multiple arms, and John McGowan would need to have a penis like a boa constrictor.”
After attesting to McGowan’s character, though, Salonia’s testimony quickly veered into the political arena. Salonia and McGowan both belong to the Republic of the United States of America, as do the three character witnesses following Salonia. Shannon asked about Salonia’s membership during cross-examination — one of the references Salonia cited for McGowan’s character was a trip the two took to the Republic of the United States of America’s Continental Congress in Utah — touching off a prolonged discussion of the group’s beliefs.
Salonia asserted the Republic’s belief that the Constitution was replaced by former President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, transforming the country into a “corporation.” Salonia and McGowan are both “senators” in the “Connecticut Republic,” one of 50 groups claiming to be part of the Republic of the United States of America. Considering the state of the Constitution, Salonia stated, the Connecticut judicial system has no jurisdiction in the case, because according to “the original Constitution,” McGowan’s accuser must bring the charges against McGowan, not the state of Connecticut.
“The state is accusing me of sexually assaulting the state?” asked McGowan of Salonia, who responded in the affirmative.
McGowan continued by asking Salonia if the case was consequently unconstitutional, since all of the paperwork for the case read “the state of Connecticut vs. John McGowan.” Salonia concurred.
“They’re not the injured party,” Salonia said, “so they have no jurisdiction.”
Maybe the wanna-be senator should take a moment and reflect on whether or not her idiotic testimony hurt McGowan's case.
UPDATE 6:30PM: The Waterbury Republican-American and the Register-Citizen were on hand today for the verdict. I'll post their write-ups once they're published online.
UPDATE 5:00 PM: Traffic on the site has spiked to insane levels. I'm in the process of providing an account on what happened today as soon as possible.
- McGowan supporters included his parents, Sovereign citizen movement "senator" Chris Salonia and other anti-government whackos, anti-immigrant friend, former lover of McGowan, and local access TV host Barbara Keidel (and her show producer Sandra Worbel), former local access TV partner and anti-immigrant extremist tom Big(o)T Bennett.
- McGowan supporters were visibly shocked with his bail increase, which resulted in him being taken away in handcuffs.
- McGowan seemed to have anticipated a guilty verdict as he had a written document prepared for the court after the verdict.
- McGowan claimed that he would be unable to come up with the increase in bond and that the increase should not happen because he appeared at every court hearing. In response (and in a bit or irony) the judge brought up as one rationale behind increasing the bond was the fact that McGowan claimed repeatedly in court hearings that he believed that the courts have no jurisdiction over him.
- After listening to a re-broadcast of the victim and detective's testimony, the took less than an hour to come to a decision.
- McGowan demanded a jury poll after they gave their verdict and each member of the jury stood and said McGowan was guilty.
I'm racing against the clock to do my write-up...I'll have a more detailed write-up posted ASAP.
At 3:04 PM, a jury of 4 men and 2 woman rendered a verdict of guilty in the rape case against former Danbury mayoral candidate and local anti-immigrant activist John McGowan. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct 21 and the judge increased McGowan's bond by 25,000 dollars.
McGowan was taken away in handcuffs and is now in custody until the bond can paid.
I'll have more on what happened in court soon...