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Lawyer takes stand in his own defense at sex assault trial

Union Leader Correspondent

July 30. 2014 7:39PM
Lawrence Buswell, 53, takes the witness stand in his own defense on Wednesday in Rockingham County Superior Court. He faces two counts of felonious sexual assault. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/Union Leader Correspondent)

BRENTWOOD — Plaistow lawyer Lawrence Buswell testified in his own defense on Wednesday, denying he had sex in July 2011 with the 15-year-old boy who accused him of rape.

Buswell, 53, of Kingston was the final witness at his trial in Rockingham County Superior Court where he is facing two counts of felonious sexual assault.

Prosecutors accuse Buswell of raping the boy while they were on his boat one night on Country Pond in Kingston sometime in July 2011.

The teenager, now 18, and his family were camping at Country Shores campground in Kingston, a business owned by Buswell’s parents, at the time of the alleged assault. The defense called three other witnesses, including Buswell’s twin 18-year-old daughters, to testify that the alleged victim was known for not being truthful.

“He was often dishonest and disrespectful and overall not to be a trusted source of information,” said Joseph Henson, 18, whose family worked for Buswell’s parents at the campground.

Buswell offered no assessment himself about the boy’s veracity. But when asked by his lawyer if he engaged in specific sexual acts with the youth in July 2011, Buswell said, “I did not” and shook his head.

Buswell said he got along with the teenager, but had confronted him about drinking on his campsite in August 2011. That happened after Buswell’s daughter told him that the boy appeared at their camp site, claiming his water bottle was filled with vodka, according to Buswell.

“I told him that I did not know what he had in that water bottle at my trailer, but if he was drinking, I was going to bring him to his parents and report him,” Buswell testified.

Buswell said that he told the teen that such an incident would likely have led to the boy’s family being kicked out of the campground.

The boy responded, “If you do, I will tell them you gave me the alcohol,” according to Buswell.

Assistant County Attorney Lisa Cirulli quizzed Buswell about a July 23, 2011 photograph that showed the teen piloting Buswell’s boat and chatting with him. The photo was taken by one of Buswell’s daughters. “I have no recollection of him being on my boat,” Buswell told jurors.

But Cirulli questioned whether it was credible that he would allow a 15-year-old boy to pilot his boat during the one time he was on it.

She also asked Buswell about witnesses who testified that they often saw the 53-year-old on his boat with other groups of boys.

“Very rarely would I be out there without one or more of my kids,” Buswell responded.

Defense lawyer Lincoln Soldati argued that the alleged victim was lying in order to avoid his own troubles with his parents. Soldati said the boy was facing a family court petition, known as a CHINS petition, filed against him by his parents in Massachusetts before filing a complaint against Buswell, according to the defense.

Soldati has challenged nearly every detail of the boy’s account about the alleged sex assault, including the kind of alcohol he drank and the type of underwear Buswell was supposedly wearing at the time of the encounter.

At one point, Buswell held up a pair of his own boxer brief underwear to refute the teen’s testimony that he saw Buswell wearing boxer shorts. Buswell said he did not recall ever wearing boxer shorts.

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