BRENTWOOD — A jury began deliberating Thursday morning in the case of a local lawyer accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy while staying at a Kingston campground in July 2011.
Closing arguments in the trial of Lawrence Buswell, 53, ended with the prosecution and defense sparring about the veracity of the alleged victim.
“It’s not enough to say this might have happened or it probably happened. They have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, they have failed that standard miserably,” defense lawyer Lincoln Soldati said.
The teen told jurors he drank vodka supplied by Buswell and was sexually assaulted by him while the two were aboard his boat on Country Pond in Kingston sometime in July 2011. The alleged victim said he had just come in from a swim and was getting toweled off by Buswell when the alleged assault began.
Assistant County Attorney Lisa Cirulli told jurors that the teen had no motive to invent a story about being sexually assaulted by Buswell, a man he got along with.
She also dismissed claims by the defense that the boy only made up the assault to avoid consequences of a juvenile family court petition filed against him by his parents in Massachusetts.
“What did (he) really gain by disclosing? A trip to the police station,” she said. Aside from numerous interviews with investigators, “he gained an opportunity to come in here and talk to you – strangers – and the judge about the private, personal details of a horrific event,” Cirulli said.
The alleged assault happened while the teen was staying with his family at Country Shore campground in Kingston, a business owned by Buswell's parents.
Soldati argued that the youth’s lies and the handling of the case overall should anger jurors.
“The other aspect of this case that is so incredibly troublesome and should make you angry is the lack of the fundamental fairness in the investigation,” Soldati said. “I shouldn’t even say that. Why? Because there was no investigation.”
Soldati said that Kingston police were advised not to subpoena text messages between the teen and Buswell on the advice of the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.
The defense also handed over to prosecutors photos taken by one of Buswell’s daughters showing the victim and Buswell riding in the boat together. The teen is driving Buswell’s boat while speaking to him.
The defense claims the photos – taken during the early evening of July 23, 2011 – contradicts the victim’s narrative that he was alone with Buswell on the boat at the time of the alleged assault.
Cirulli said the victim never gave a specific date of the assault. She said jurors could find that the assault happened on other days in July 2011.
She encouraged jurors to scrutinize Buswell’s testimony. She asked why Buswell would allow a teenager who had only been on the boat once to drive it.
“Does that make sense to you?” she asked.