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What you need to know for 07/25/2017

Former harness racer guilty of molesting teen girls

Former harness racer guilty of molesting teen girls

Moments after Brian Allen was convicted of molesting a 14-year-old girl, the successful harness raci

Moments after Brian Allen was convicted of molesting a 14-year-old girl, the successful harness racing driver and trainer admitted he also had a sexual tryst with a 15-year-old girl.

Judge Jerry Scarano found the 48-year-old Greenfield man guilty on counts of second-degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child following a four-day bench trial in Saratoga County Court. Then, after he was ordered held without bail to await sentencing, Allen abruptly agreed to plead guilty to another felony count of second-degree criminal sex act to resolve 46 additional counts — ranging from criminal sex act to rape — he faced in connection with the 15-year-old, a friend of the other victim.

Allen now faces two concurrent terms of three years in prison and as much as 10 years of post-release supervision when he’s sentenced Sept. 19. He will also need to register as a sex offender.

Karen Heggen, Saratoga County first assistant district attorney, credited the victims in the case for having the fortitude to face the man who sexually exploited them. Specifically, she credited the 14-year-old girl for recounting Allen’s conduct when she took the stand against him this week.

“She continually provided information in front of the judge clearly and concisely and demonstrated to him this defendant had in fact committed these crimes,” she said.

Defense attorney Mark Wolber characterized the girl differently, saying she distorted the truth. He said her testimony was rife with inaccuracies that didn’t match statements she made to Saratoga County sheriff’s investigators and later to a grand jury.

“I was very surprised the judge thought the testimony was reliable,” he said. “There were discrepancies in her testimony.”

Lead prosecutor Jennifer Buckley said Allen, who raced and trained horses at Saratoga Casino and Raceway, apparently was an acquaintance of the families of both girls. He initially engaged in a sexual relationship with the older girl that started in October 2011.

The younger girl was staying overnight at the Allens’ Hemlock Drive residence on Feb. 24, 2012, while Allen’s wife was at work in the evening. The girl testified Allen performed oral sex on her at his home before his wife returned.

The girl later sent a text message to a friend about the incident and word got back to her mother by the next morning. The girl’s parents testified they tried to confront Allen about the accusation, but he apparently left the area before they could find him.

The parents also became aware of the other girl, who was friends with their daughter. Both girls were interviewed by investigators, who then arrested Allen in March 2012.

Allen was released on $20,000 bail but was forced out of harness racing shortly thereafter. In June 2012, the state Racing and Wagering Board suspended his license indefinitely, saying he lacked “the general character and fitness for continued participation in pari-mutuel racing.”

Allen’s trial on the first two counts of the indictment was to be followed by another next month on the remaining charges stemming from his sexual relationship with the older girl.

Wolber said the case came down to whether the judge believed Allen or the victim. Though prosecutors introduced DNA evidence, he didn’t think any of it was compelling enough to lead to a conviction.

“It really came down to his word vs. hers,” he said.

Heggen said the judge made the right call. She said Allen took advantage of two young girls and is now going to pay the price.

“He is a predator who has preyed on victims of young and tender ages, and as a result of them coming forward and telling about the acts he committed against them, he is now being held accountable,” she said.

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