A jury will decide if a Bellingham bistro owner sexually assaulted five women, over a year after widespread posts on social media accused Jamison Rogayan of using drugs and alcohol to rape women in his downtown apartment
The trial began Tuesday for Jamison Scott Rogayan, 32, the former front-of-house manager and co-owner of Cosmos Bistro, where he was the face of the new eclectic Americana restaurant on the bottom floor of the Herald Building.
His business partner, Cinnamon Berg, banned him from Cosmos at a staff meeting in late summer 2015, when stories emerged on reddit.com and Facebook accusing Rogayan of raping women who were too intoxicated to consent to sex.
As rumors swirledon social media that year, a self-appointed advocate for the women, Cordelia Fiterre, created a secret Facebook group where the women compared hazy memories: offers of cocaine, marijuana or alcohol in Rogayan’s apartment on Chestnut Street; waking up in the morning feeling violated – or in the act of being sexually violated, according to alleged victims’ reports in the court record.
A total of 10 women have told police detectives they were raped, sexually abused or held captive by Rogayan in the decade before his arrest. Some of the women knew Rogayan from work or the bars downtown. One woman still wasn’t sure it was him – “I was so gone that I don’t even remember leaving the bars” – until she described him to the others on the secret Facebook page.
The earliest incident dates back to 2006, from a woman who claims Rogayan groped her after she did a line of cocaine in his apartment, according to police reports. She left, and didn’t make a report until other stories surfaced. By then the statute of limitations had passed in her case, and three others, so charges can’t be filed. One of the 10 women did not want to press charges, according to court records.
Rogayan was booked into jail Sept. 25,2015, where he has remained, unable to post $500,000 bond. He is accused of four counts of second-degree rape, one count of indecent liberties, and one count of unlawful imprisonment.
Seven women, five men, and three alternates were picked for the jury Tuesday. The trial is scheduled to last up to three weeks.
“This case is about a man, the defendant, who took what he wanted,” the deputy prosecutor, Evan Jones, said in his opening statement Tuesday afternoon.
Jones introduced the names of five accusers who are expected to testify at trial. As a general policy, The Bellingham Herald does not name alleged victims of sex crimes. Here we are identifying them by initials, however, for the sake of clarity.
▪ R., 33, reported she was sexually assaulted in March 2011.
On the witness stand Tuesday, she spoke in a calm voice, at times brushing away tears with a tissue. She first met Rogayan at a house party in fall 2010, when he followed her into a bathroom, she said.
At the time that seemed harmless to her, and months later she invited him to a costume party at her friend’s home. She changed clothes at Rogayan’s apartment and left things behind.
A prosecutor showed the jury a picture of R. and Rogayan wearing their last-minute costumes, two Futurama characters, on the night of the party. They split a bottle of wine, and at the party Rogayan drank from a fifth of whiskey and a stiff cocktail he offered to R., according to her testimony.
Rogayan got kicked out of the party. She testified they argued on a tense walk back to his apartment and, as things got blurrier for her, he blocked the apartment door and grabbed her arms. She said he put his hands down her pants. In her report to police she said a struggle and sexual assault went on for hours.
“I, several times, in plain English said, ‘No, I don’t want to,’ but he didn’t listen,” she testified.
Her bruises were photographed that week when she went to police, reluctantly. She was certain she had been violated, she said, but unsure if it would be considered a rape. (As it’s charged, it is rape, under state law.) But shefelt unsure about pursuing the case at all, according to police reports summarized by the defense. No charges were filed until other reports came to light in 2015.
Other key witnesses, who are expected to be called in the coming week are:
▪ L.H., 28, who met Rogayan for the first time on a night in fall 2013. He bought drinks for her, and they went to his apartment to use cocaine. She reported she pretended to pass out and escaped when Rogayan left to use the bathroom; he claims she left amicably after he ran out of coke, according to a defense brief.
▪ E., 42, who drank beer and took the rave drug MDMA, known as Molly, or in pill form, Ecstasy, before going downtown in February 2014.
She bumped into Rogayan at Cap Hansen’s, and recognized him from downtown bars. Twice she blacked out, and in the morning when she came to, he was sexually touching her, according to the charges. She told her ex-boyfriend and two co-workers that she was raped, but didn’t go to police for over a year.
▪ L.G., 27, who met up with Rogayan for a drink at Cap Hansen’s in late fall 2014. After a couple of gin and tonics, she recalled almost nothing of the night, except for waking up to find the defendant sexually touching her, according to charging papers.
▪ K., 24, who was drinking alone at Cap Hansen’s in April 2015. She knew Rogayan from bars, and he talked with her as she smoked a cigarette outside. She recalled drunkenly walking to Cosmos with him, standing on top of a building, and little else. The next thing she recalls is waking up to Rogayan having sexual contact with her, according to her statements.
On Tuesday morning Rogayan entered the courtroom in a black suit, with a new haircut, clean-shaven, without the long, bushy black beard he had grown 1½ years ago.
“Mr. Rogayan denies sexually assaulting anyone,” his defense attorney, Alexander Ransom, wrote in a trial brief filed this week.
The defense declined to make an opening statement Tuesday, but can still do so after the state presents its case. During jury selection, Ransom asked the jury pool how they define rape, and dropped hints about possible defenses he had outlined in his brief.
“If everyone is just so intoxicated that we can’t remember what the heck is going on and what is happening – is that rape?” Ransom asked. “If sexual contact or intercourse happens, is that rape?”
“Rape is when two people have sex and one of them does not wish to participate in the activity,” said Juror No. 9, “whether they’re sober, or drunk, or later on, the person says I did not wish to participate in that.” (He was picked for the jury.)
“I disagree with that,” chimed in Juror No. 7. (She was later excused.)
“Is there a difference between regret and rape?” Ransom asked. “Show of hands, who thinks there’s not a difference?”
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NORTHFIELD — A 74-year-old man accused of sexually abusing a disabled woman and molesting seven children while working as a janitor at a local community center is scheduled to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Robert Magoon, 74, who now lives in Boscawen is scheduled to stand trial in April on charges alleging that he isolated a wheelchair-bound woman in a separate room at The Pines community center and repeatedly sexually abused her. The allegations involving seven children that range in age from 7 to 13 will follow, most likely in two separate trials. Magoon remains free after posting $10,000 cash bail on the condition he wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, and have no contact with children.
On Jan. 18, Judge Diane M. Nicolosi granted a motion filed under seal asking the court to approve the hiring of a forensic psychiatrist. Typically, a forensic psychiatrist is called upon to evaluate a person in order to determine their mental state ahead of a trial. If they find that the defendant cannot fully grasp the charges they're facing, or are not in any condition to help their lawyer mount a defense, they may be found incompetent to stand trial.
This judgment is based on the interpretation of the Fifth Amendment, allowing a defendant to be present at their trial, face and challengetheir accusers and help their attorney defend against the charges.
As part of the examination, a forensic psychiatrist will make adiagnostic assessment about a defendant's mental state, and then make a recommendation about whether any treatment may help them overcome their problems.
If treatment is recommended, a judge can order the defendant to comply. If within 12 months a follow-up evaluation shows no improvement, a defendant may be found "non-restorable," prompting dismissal of the criminal charges.
A defendant may still face involuntary commitment to the secure psychiatric unit of the New Hampshire State Hospital, however, if a court rules they pose a danger to themselves or the public.
Some forms of dementia can cause people to become sexually disinhibited. According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, inappropriate sexual behavior can be one of the symptoms of its onset. Damage in the front and temporal lobes of the brain can disrupt a person's ability to control their impulses.
In asking a judge to order a separate trial for the charges involving the disabled woman, Prosecutor Wayne Coull said the alleged assaults against her were "much more severe in nature" than those involving the children, and occurred in a different part of the community center during a different time of day.
In urging the court not to reduce Magoon's bail, Coull disclosed that in July 2015 a similar complaint was lodged against Magoon "that was apparently handled by the police merely speaking with the Director of the Pines, who in turn warned the defendant not to touch children. That incident was correctly re-investigated after the new disclosures, and resulted in an indictment."
While such a warning, Coull said, would prompt any "normal" person working in an environment with children to avoid any future contact which would be remotely construed as inappropriate, Magoon's behavior not only continued but seemed to have increased, demonstrating that his compulsion to engage in sexual contract with children is something he cannot control.
Defense Attorney Catherine Flinchbaugh concurred with the state that it makes sense to hold a second trial in early May to hear the charges involving one child who has accused Magoon of touching her genital area beneath her clothes. The remaining victims allege the defendant fondled them through their clothing.
At issue is whether the testimony of seven children would in and of itself be so prejudicial in sheer volume as to sway a jury to convict. The state believes the children should be able to testify in one trial to show that Magoon's conduct was intentional, not just a mistake or accident.
Given his age and status as a retired police officer, Coull asserts that Magoon seems unassuming and inoffensive. It would be easy, he maintains, for the defense to portray at trial his acts were mistaken conduct – just a misunderstanding accidental act by a kindly, older, gentlemen being nice to children.
The prosecutor suggests the defense may also try to suggest to the jury that Magoon didn't know that his conduct was inappropriate. That trial strategy makes the charge involving the oldest allegation, "exceedingly relevant" to all the other cases, because in that instance he was warned to not have any contact with children, Coull wrote.
Last August, a Merrimack County grand jury returned 11 indictments charging Magoon with aggravated felonious sexual assault, one count of felonious sexual assault, two counts of attempted felonious sexual assault and one count of simple assault. Given his age, were Magoon to be convicted of just one of the charges the resulting prison term would be a de facto life sentence.
An ex-con once accused of a violent rape in London nine years ago reportedly struck again on the same day that he tied the knot with his girlfriend.
Police arrested Derry McCann, 28, from Hackey, East London on charges of rape and robbery just hours after he walked down the aisle with his publicly unnamed partner on January 19, The Sunreports.
Just six days previous, McCann was said to have allegedly confronted a woman in nearby Victoria Park as she made her way home from a night out with friends, where he then proceeded to rob the victim. After handing over her money, McCann then grabbed the woman and supposedly dragged her into a bushel of shrubbery to assault her sexually.
Later that same day, McCann wed his beloved at The Vestry in Bromley, another district in East London, and proudly took several images with his new wife during the ceremony. Following the nuptials, the newlywed husband found time to upload the collective of visual memories to his Facebook profile, including one that displays him sharing a loving peck with his blushing bride.
During initial proceedings for the incident at Thames Magistrates’ Court on January 20, Derry McCann was formerly charged with four counts of rape and an additional count of robbery. He had yet to enter a plea at the time of the initial Sun report, but an earlier mention from another publication could loan weight as to why he hasn’t done so.
As noted in a Daily Mail post from December 2006, an individual by the name of Derry McCann was once sentenced to life in prison for the rape and assault of a 30-year-old trainee solicitor. Then 17, McCann’s modus operandi was incredibly similar to that of the most recent incident: as the victim made her way through an East London park, the defendant purportedly approached her; this time, with a reported accomplice, demanded money, then carried her off to a hidden area, a nearby pond, where she was brutally raped.
“I know there was no way I could, as much as I wish I could, forget [that] it happened,” the victim, whose identity was never revealed, said during the trial at London Crowd Court, adding that McCann violated her for an excruciating 40 minutes before finally letting her go.
Convicted of six counts of rape, robbery, and other offenses thanks to DNA evidence and from being monitored through a court-ordered ankle bracelet that he was forced to wear following another arrest, McCann was facing life imprisonment for the supposed crime, but was ultimately recommended by prosecutors to serve just nine years.
During closing arguments, Judge Lindsay Burn foreshadowed that the lenient sentence could allow McCann to strike again in the future.
“In my judgment, there’s a very substantial risk that you will commit further serious offence,” she expressed, before adding that his conduct could rightfully “cause serious harm to your [current] victim or [your future] victims.”
No mugshots from either arrest are accessible online, but the locations of both incidents, as well as the span of time between both rapes, seem to imply that both assaults were carried out by the same Derry McCann. The identity of McCann’s wife has not been made public, and Facebook pages belonging to Derry have seemingly been removed from the site. The most recent case has been transferred to Snaresbrook Crown Court, where a second hearing will be held in early February.
Whereas most might wonder how this man was granted mercy following the first rape, at least one person involved in the case, Detective Sergeant Paul Lofts, feels that McCann was completely undeserving of such leniency.
“He put [a] woman through a life-changing trauma that will haunt her for the rest of her life,” Lofts shared. “Derry McCann deserves to be behind bars.”