Millions of documents overwhelm attorneys in cases of former YDC staffers accused of abusing teens

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Entrance to the Youth Substance Use Disorder Treatment Center, added to the YDC building in 2018. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH  Prosecutors and defense attorneys are wading through more than 2.7 million pages of documents in the cases of 11 former state employees charged with sexually assaulting detained teens at the former Youth Development Center (YDC) and the New Hampshire Youth Detention Services Center (YDSC) in Concord.

Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Timothy Sullivan, at status hearings for five of the defendants in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District on Wednesday, said there is possibly hundreds of thousands of more pages to come.


He told Judge Amy Messer that last week state police investigators, while searching buildings for different hard-copy material, identified 95 computers and hard drives that may have been used by staff at YDC.  Investigators are in the process of trying to determine if there is any relevant information on those computers.

“We certainly will produce that if there is,” he said. He said some of the hard drives have staffer names on them but most of them do not.

He said he’s asked investigators to try to isolate specific victims and specific staff members “so we weren’t just producing an overwhelming amount.  Obviously, we have so far produced an overwhelming amount and we recognize that,” Sullivan said.

He said the short-term goal was to produce a more isolated discovery so “we will be able to provide targeted pages that are relevant to a particular defendant,” he said.   Sullivan said his understanding is that is supposed to be completed by the end of April. 

NH Youth Development Center complex, aerial view, in Manchester, NH. File Photo

Attorney Roger “Rusty” Chadwick, who represents Gordon Thomas Searles, 65, of 86 Sgt. Station, #31, Weare, said they are not ready to set a trial date.  

Searles is charged with three AFSA counts alleging between Oct. 2, 1995, and July 3, 1998, he forced an incarcerated teen to perform fellatio on him on three occasions in King Cottage.

Chadwick said he had already received about 800,000 documents from the state in Searles’ case and that on Wednesday he received another 500,000 pages.

He said all of the documents have to be catalogued.  Most of the defense attorneys, he said, are solo practitioners and don’t have the resources the state has.

Messer closed the courtroom for a short period to hear motions requesting some documents be sealed in the cases of Jeffrey Buskey, 54, of 25 Derlon Lane, Litchfield, and Stephen Murphy, 56, of 15 Crestline Circle, Danvers, Mass.

Buskey is charged with 25 AFSA counts occurring between May 13, 1996, and Aug. 31, 1998, involving four teens.  The indictments allege forced fellatio, anal rape while co-workers held down a youth, and in one count, the sexual penetration by “an intrusion, however slight, of a wrench manipulated by James Woodlock and/or Murphy in the anal opening of a teen.

Murphy, who attended the hearing with his attorney Charles J. Keefe, was indicted on 25 AFSA counts occurring between May 13, 1996, and Aug. 31, 1998, involving four teens.  The indictments allege forced fellatio, anal rape while co-workers held down a youth, and in one count, the sexual penetration by “an intrusion, however slight, of a wrench manipulated by James Woodlock and/or Murphy in the anal opening of a teen.

Sullivan said several trials have been scheduled.    Victor Malavet, age 59, of Gilford, will be the first to be tried on Nov. 7 in Merrimack County Superior Court.  He is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault involving allegations by one former resident of the New Hampshire Youth Detention Services Unit in Concord.

The trial of Jonathan T. Brand, 56, of 84 Branch Turnpike #128, Concord, is set for January 2023 in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District.  He is charged with two counts of felonious sexual assault occurring between March 13, 2007, and May 30, 2007, at the Sununu Youth Services Center. He is accused of coercing J.B. to masturbate him in the H-Unit at the detention facility

Stanley Watson, 52, of 60 Clement Road, Allenstown, is to be tried in March 2023 in Superior Court in Manchester.  He is charged with three AFSA counts involving two teens between April 24, 1997, and Feb. 10, 1998.  One of the indictments accuses him of a pattern of sexual assault on AC that happened at Stark House at YDC.  He also is charged with forcing AC to perform fellatio on him after bringing the teen to a laundry room in Stark House.  Another count alleges he performed fellatio on CS in his bedroom at Spaulding Cottage.

 The other defendants who had hearings Wednesday were

  • Trevor Middleton, 52, of 5 High St., Belmont, was indicted on two counts of felonious sexual assault (FSA) alleging multiple sexual acts against JP in King Cottage between May 10, 1999, and March 16, 2001, including having the teen perform fellatio on him.
  • Lucien E. Poulette, 65, of 44 Appletree Road, Auburn, 11 FSA counts and 18 AFSA charges involving six youths occurring over 11 years, between Oct. 24, 1994, and May 19, 2005.  The indictments allege acts of fellatio and anal intercourse taking place at Spaulding Cottage where Poulette was a house leader.

 The criminal charges date back 26 years to 1995 with the most recent assaults allegedly taking place in 2007.   

The accusations have resulted in civil lawsuits by hundreds of people who allege they were abused at the detention facilities.  The state legislature is considering approving a $100 million to settle the lawsuits.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office opened a Joint YDC Task Force to look into allegations of sexual abuse of teens at the state’s juvenile detention center.  The state has  a team of investigators, including 10 New Hampshire State Police troopers, an intelligence analyst,  prosecutors and victim-witness advocates investigating the allegations.

The judge said she would set further hearings in 60 to 90 days.

Any person with information regarding criminal conduct at the YDC is urged to contact the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Task Force hotline at 271-4000.


 

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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.