N.H. student says attacker posed as police officer

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 09 2002 12:00 AM ET

A man accused of sexually assaulting a student from New Hampshire's Keene State College has one thing in common with his alleged victim--both say the incident has ruined their lives. Franklin Harvey, 37, of Rindge, is on trial in Cheshire County superior court for two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. Prosecutors say that in October 2001 he posed as a police officer to get a 19-year-old sophomore into his car, drove to a secluded area in Swanzey, N.H., and sexually assaulted him. But Harvey's lawyer says the encounter was consensual and that her client didn't deceive anyone.

"Frank Harvey is gay, and Frank Harvey is openly gay," public defender Janice Peterson told jurors as the trial began Wednesday. "He's not a police officer, and he didn't pretend to be one on October 13."

Peterson said the allegations have ruined Harvey's life, but county attorney Peter Heed countered that it is the student whose life has been destroyed. Heed asked the young man if he has tried to put the incident behind him. "I've been trying for a year, but it just doesn't go away," the man testified. "I think about it every day."

On the night of the incident, the student said he was carrying a street sign he had found back to his apartment when Harvey pulled up alongside him. "He said, 'Why don't you hop in the car and let's talk about it?"' the young man testified. "I was brought up to respect authority, and at the time I thought he was an authority." He said Harvey told him he was "patrolling" and that he could be fined for stealing the sign. When they reached Swanzey, Harvey told the student there was an alternative to paying the fine. "He said there were two options, and that's when he grabbed my crotch," the student testified. The student said he protested but eventually allowed Harvey to sexually assault him because he feared for his life. He said Harvey told him he was "the law" and that it wouldn't do any good to report the incident.

Though the young man testified that Harvey's jacket looked like the ones worn by Keene bicycle officers, Harvey's lawyer ridiculed that assessment. She also said Harvey's car, a Kia Sephia, did not look like a police car. "The yellow jacket wouldn't pass for a Halloween costume of a police officer," she said. "The green Sephia wouldn't pass for a police cruiser on a low-budget movie set. When you sit on a jury, you don't check your common sense at the door.... What was [the alleged victim] afraid of that night?"

Peterson said the alleged victim agreed to the sexual act with Harvey and gave him his telephone number but then got spooked when he realized that a gay man might call him and he'd have to explain that to his roommates. The alleged victim "made his own decisions that night," she said.