NASHUA, N.H. – A woman who ran off to Florida with her young son and teenage lover entrapped the 16-year-old by having sex with him, a prosecutor said at the opening of her trial on kidnapping charges Tuesday.
Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Justin Shepard acknowledged it wasn't a typical kidnapping case, but said Jennifer Malone took advantage of a vulnerable teen she should have been supervising.
"This case is about a 32-year-old woman enticing, befriending and seducing a 16-year-old boy," said Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Justin Shephard. "But for the sex, he wouldn't have gone to Florida."
Malone is charged with kidnapping Christopher Cole, of Nashua, whom she met while working as a teacher's assistant at Mount Prospect Academy in Plymouth. She also took her 8-year-old son Brennan when they ran away.
Defense attorney Adam Bernstein argued the relationship was consensual and that Cole had plenty of chances to leave Malone and return home. He also said Cole had his own reasons for fleeing: He had twice tested positive for drug use, and was terrified he would be locked up for violating his probation.
"Christopher Cole wanted to leave the state of New Hampshire because Christopher Cole didn't know how to comply with the rules," Bernstein said.
According to police, Malone and Cole began a sexual relationship and fled after learning that the state Division of Children, Youth and Families was investigating possible misconduct by Malone.
Authorities searched for them nationwide for 10 days in June before finding them in Florida.
A city transit worker at a St. Petersburg bus depot recognized Malone and the boys from photos on the television news; he said he saw the woman "making out" at the depot with the teen, while the 8-year-old watched.
Malone, formerly of Canterbury, was indicted in August and held on $50,000 bail. She was released to the custody of her parents in Farmington.
But in September, Malone was arrested again, accused of driving past a site where Cole was working and asking him to meet her, a violation of her bail conditions. She was charged with stalking and her bail was revoked last month.