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Former selectman, teacher acquitted of sex assault charges

November 10, 2010
LANCASTER — On the day before his 63rd birthday, Paul Ouimet heard two words—not guilty—that he has long waited for. Those words will now allow him to get on with the rest of his life. The words "were great to hear," said the local man who has spent the last four years defending himself against three decades old charges of felonious sexual assault against a minor, "but it's not like waving a magic wand." His life, he said, is in shambles — plagued by poor health and financial ruins.

Mr. Ouimet, a former Carroll Selectman and White Mountain Regional High School teacher, retired in 2005 after 18 years in the local high school. Nearly a year after retiring, he found himself at the center of several allegations — most prominent among them, forcibly raping a 13 year-old boy. The alleged victim, now in his 40s, claimed that his involvement in the Big Brother, Big Sisters program in Abington, Mass., introduced him to Mr. Mr. Ouimet and that from 1978 to 1981 he abused him.

Mr. Ouimet denied the allegations, but prosecutors continued their investigation and eventually pressed charges. He was indicted in December 2006 in Plymouth County (Mass.) Superior Court.

Normally such dated charges can't be pursued, but because Mr. Ouiment moved away from Massachusetts the statue of limitations was suspended, thus allowing such charges to be brought forward. The case went to trial in February 2009 where Mr. Ouimet faced six charges — two for indecent assault and another for obscene matter to a minor; eventually he was acquitted of these charges — and two counts of forcible rape of a minor and another charge of assault. The latter charges ended in a mistrial and a new trial was set for this year in Plymouth County Superior Court. The trial began on October 26 and three days later, the court ruled in Mr. Ouimet's favor. His final acquittal ended his four-year battle to prove his innocence and clear his name.

"Over the four years I haven't had much of life," Mr. Ouiment said. "Massive stress has taken its toll on my health and I'm in financial ruins." Throughout the case he has been essentially homeless living with friends and occasionally at motels, he said.

Mr. Ouimet said still perplexed by the whole thing. "You don't calculate it," he said, "when you work with kids…, you always run the risk, (but) way back in your mind, you never expect it." He credits his friends, former colleagues and his past foster sons, who stood by him, for, as he said, "putting up with me and putting me up." He also wanted to thank his public defender, lawyer Anna Olver.

Varney Smith
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