Five of 7 accused YDC staffers get bail; hearings set for other two

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The Former Youth Detention Center now the Sununu Center. File Photo

MANCHESTER, NH – A former New Hampshire Youth Development counselor, arrested earlier this week in Florida, appeared on video Friday at his arraignment on a felony charge accusing him of coercing a teen into performing a sex act on him in exchange for a lesser punishment.

Gordon Thomas Searles, 65, of 86 Sgt. Station # 31, Weare was arraigned in 9th Circuit – District Division – Manchester on one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault.   According to the complaint, between Oct. 2, 1995, and July 3, 1998, Searles was in a position of authority over B.R. when he coerced him to perform fellatio on him in exchange for a reduction in punishment.

Because Searles did not have an attorney, his bail hearing was continued to Monday in circuit court.

So far, five of the seven men accused in the sexual exploitation case have been granted bail.  

On Friday, Judge William Lyons set bail for:

  • Jeffrey Buskey, 54, who prosecutors said was from Quincy, Mass. but whose address in court documents is listed as 25 Derlon Lane, Litchfield, $50,000 cash/surety.  He is charged with five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault involving four former YDC residents occurring between 1996-1999.  He is alleged to have used physical force, violence and or superior physical strength in assaulting the teens.  One of the complaints alleges he engaged in a pattern of  sexual assault with one of the boys between Feb. 9 and Aug. 24, 1998.

Buskey previously was indicted on dozens of offenses involving the alleged sexual assault of one teen.  Those charges were dropped because, prosecutors said, the discovery process required the state to turn over evidence which would have hampered the ongoing investigation.

The prosecutor, in arguing that Buskey should be held without bail, said the new charges are more egregious than the prior ones because before, where there was one victim, now there are four.

  • James Woodlock, 56, of 1555 Bodwell Road, $15,000 cash/surety.  He is charged with three counts of being an accomplice to aggravated felonious sexual assault involving two former YDC residents.  The incidents allegedly happened between 1997-99. In one, he is accused of aiding Bradley Asbury in restraining M.G. while Stephen Murphy anally penetrated him at East Cottage.  In another, he is accused of assisting Murphy by acting as a lookout while Murphy forced D.M. to perform fellatio on him.  He also allegedly acted as the lookout for Buskey when he allegedly forced D.M. to perform fellatio on him.
  •  Stephen Murphy, 51, of 15 Crestline Circle, Danvers, Mass., $25,000 cash/surety.  He is charged with five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault involving three former YDC residents occurring between 1997-1999.  One of the charges alleges a pattern of sexual assault against one of the boys.

On Thursday, Lyons set bail at $50,000 cash/surety for Bradley Asbury, 66, of 9 Jacqueline Drive, Dunbarton, who is charged with being an accomplice to aggravated felonious sexual assault between Oct. 20, 1997 and June 5, 1998.

He also granted bail for Lucien Poulette, 65, of 44 Appletree Road, Auburn, who is facing the largest number of charges – 33, which includes 27 felonies, involving seven YDC teens dating back to 1994 and continuing through 2005.

Poulette was charged in 2015 with sexually assaulting a YDC resident but the charge was later dropped when the alleged victim backed out of the trial, according to then Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Conlon. 

A bail hearing is also set Monday for Frank Davis, 79, of 1926 Clement Hill Road, Contoocook, charged with one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault and five counts of sexual account allegedly taking place between 1996-97 and involving two former YDC residents.  He is accused of sexually penetrating D.M. through “concealment or by the element of surprise” at King Cottage before the teen had an adequate chance to flee or resist.   He also allegedly grabbed the testicles of another teen on three separate occasions while having an erection.  

Assistant Attorney General Joe Cherniske said the investigation into the sexual abuse allegation at the juvenile detention facility has been ongoing since 2017.