Bruce Hanson not guilty on both counts

NASHUA – Bruce Hanson shook his attorney’s hand, then the two embraced as many of the 15 or so people who attended both days of Hanson’s trial shed tears of relief on his behalf Wednesday afternoon.

The scene in Courtroom 3 at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua came moments after the jury foreperson rose, then twice answered “not guilty” when Deputy Clerk Amy Feliciano asked for the jury’s findings on each of the two counts.

The panel of nine women three men returned the verdicts around 2 p.m. Wednesday, after just 45 minutes or so of deliberations.

“Bruce is very pleased with the verdict,” his lawyer, Nashua Attorney Eric Wilson, said following the verdicts.

“And we thank the jurors for their difficult task in evaluating this case.”

Hanson was tried on two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, special felonies that accused him of engaging in sexual acts with a woman without her consent, and doing so through the use of force, between March 1 and July 1, 2013, according to the indictments.

The two charges were part of an 11-count indictment grand jurors handed up against Hanson in August 2018. Wilson, Hanson’s lawyer, was granted motions asking the court to sever, or separate, the 11 charges into three groups – one for each of the three alleged victims.

As it stands now, jury selection for Hanson’s second trial is scheduled for Nov. 4, with the trial itself to begin either that week or the week of Nov. 11.

That trial involves six charges: Two counts each of trafficking – involuntary servitude; aggravated felonious sexual assault – threaten retaliation; and prostitution – force or intimidation.

The third trial, currently scheduled for a trial management conference on Nov. 22, jury selection on Dec. 2 and the start of testimony either that week or the week of Dec. 9, involves the remaining three charges: one count each of trafficking – involuntary servitude; aggravated felonious sexual assault – threaten retaliation; and prostitution – force or intimidation.

Meanwhile, Hanson’s accuser was the first witness to take the stand after the sides gave their opening statements Tuesday morning.

She said she met Hanson through substance use disorder recovery programs they both attended back in 2012 and 2013.

She was in her mid-20s at the time, and while Hanson was roughly 30 years her senior, the two grew close, eventually spending time together outside of their recovery sessions.

She looked up to Hanson as “a good mentor” who “seemed to know a ton about” recovery programs, and “always had positive things to say,” she testified.

But the two told very different stories about the events of a particular evening in 2013 – a June evening, the woman testified, on which she claimed Hanson forced himself upon her and had sex with her despite her repeated pleas that he stop.

But it was actually a March evening, Wilson later pointed out by referring to statements and other documents from that time frame.

Upon taking the stand, Hanson recounted in fine detail his version of the events of that evening, including, at the urging of Wilson, some uncomfortable – but important – details.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.