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Accused child molester is found not guilty

12-10-2004 Vermont:

."The nightmare is over," Norman Cook, 48, declared after a jury found him not guilty of child molestation Thursday. Cook, of Brattleboro, was facing a maximum of 80 years in prison on charges that he sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl six years ago.

"This is a small town, and Mr. Cook had to put up with being looked at as a pedophile for over a year," defense attorney Eileen Hongisto of the firm Harris & Stone said of her client.

"People need to know he was acquitted of everything." Hongisto said she believes the jury was swayed by Cook's testimony on the stand, and inconsistencies in his now 15-year-old accuser's story.

"The details of what she said happened, to the therapist and a police officer, a social worker and when she testified on the stand changed," Hongisto said. "And the fact that it was a one time alleged thing -- for pedophiles, that's not the pattern."

The allegations against Cook were brought forward after his accuser, of Troy, N.H., had been found by authorities, Hongisto said. "At worst case scenario, she was lying and trying to get out of trouble. A total fabrication," Hongisto said. ..more.. ANDREW RAGOUZEOS Reformer Staff

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