By Patrick Markey
A New Hampshire man was convicted last week of raping two Irish students who had been working in the United States for the summer season.
A jury in Rockingham County Superior Court deliberated for most of Wednesday before finding Steven Gordon guilty of sexually assaulting the two women at gunpoint in a deserted graveyard in June 1998.
"We delighted that this is over for these two young women. We’re glad that Gordon will behind bars for most of the rest, if not the rest of his life," said James Reams, the Rockingham County prosecutor.
A few hours after he was convicted, Gordon tried to escape from police custody as he was being transported back to prison.
"In the parking lot of the courthouse here, he kicked out the windows of the sheriff’s van he was in, although he was handcuffed at the time. They sprayed him with pepper gas and took back into the holding cell," Reams said.
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Sentencing will likely take place next month when prosecutors will ask for a life term because Gordon already has a previous conviction for sexual assault.
On Wednesday, Gordon was found guilty of five counts of felonious sexual assault and two counts of kidnapping. He still faces other related abduction charges in nearby Portsmouth County. He is also wanted for questioning in the rape of a real estate agent earlier in 1998 and a string of local robberies.
Reams had presented the victims as two women whose search for fun and adventure in America turned into a nightmare when they crossed paths with Gordon, an ex-convict who had been on parole when the assault took place.
During the trial one of the victims, a 24-year-old college graduate from southeast Ireland, recalled how Gordon had forced her to perform sexual acts at gunpoint before raping her and her 21-year-old friend.
Prosecutors said Gordon had forced the two women into his rented car at gunpoint after abducting them from a beach in the early morning hours. Gordon’s lawyer, Philip Desfosses, however, questioned whether the testifying witness had been so drunk she couldn’t remember the details of having consensual sex with a stranger.
Police said after the assault Gordon fled the country for Belgium, where he surrendered to the authorities at the American embassy. He was eventually extradited to the United States in February.