A 49-year-old Massachusetts man has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a then 13-year-old boy in 1990 in North Conway, NH. During the trial, the defense team admitted the man had a sexual relationship with the boy but insisted that it wasn’t a crime because of the way the law was written at the time.
On July 23, the trial of Scott Sensabaugh, of Taunton, Mass., opened in Carroll County (NH) Superior Court with Judge Steven Houran presiding. Sensabaugh was convicted and will be sentenced on charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault and two class-A misdemeanors.
“This is a case of a 13-year-old boy in need of a father figure and a man who moved into that boy’s life to take full advantage of the situation,” said deputy county attorney Susan Boone in her opening statement.
Sensabaugh was a family friend of victim Jason Conroy, who is now a 36-year-old Massachusetts resident. Sensabaugh had met the victim’s family because he was a customer of the family’s hardware store. During the summer of 1990, Sensabaugh and Conroy went on a camping trip together.
Boone said the news reports regarding Penn State University about how nobody reacted to coach Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuses for a long time was a reason why Conroy stepped forward a couple of years ago. Boone said during the time in question, Conroy woke up to being sexually assaulted both at the campsite and in the motel after being plied with alcohol and marijuana. According to Boone, the boy was taken by surprise and was helpless to resist Sensabaugh’s advances.
“His (Conroy’s) fear is that the defendant was a monster and people like that don’t stop unless someone someone stops them,” said Boone in closing.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Thomas A. Pavlinic, of Maryland, said Sensabaugh used poor judgment in having a sexual relationship with a 13 year old.
He said the relationship began in Massachusetts. He said at the time of the alleged offense it wasn’t illegal for a man to have sexual contact with a 13-year-old minor except under limited circumstances. Those circumstances are that the minor was “physically helpless or the acts that were perpetrated on him were the result of concealment or surprise when he had no opportunity to resist or flee,” said Pavlinic.
“What this case is about is an attempt to manufacture facts to form a crime as opposed to a crime being charged as a result of the facts,” said Pavlinic.
Pavlinic said Sensabaugh is ashamed of his actions in 1990 and has since turned his life around. A quarter century ago, Sensabaugh was having issues with his sexuality and his actions were “a product of the times,” said Pavlinic.
Pavlinic called his client’s actions a “horrible thing” but stressed they were not crimes back in 1990.
“We’re not minimizing what happened,” said Pavlinic. “We’re actually apologizing for what happened.”
Conroy said it was a “very” difficult decision to come forward but says he hopes to encourage other victims to do the same.
“I just want every other person out there that has had this happen to him to know that they can stand up to these people,” said Conroy. “You can take them on. Don’t be afraid.”