Maine Woman Illegally Searched Gets $200K after NH State Police Arrest

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Haden Wilber is pictured when he was still a state trooper.


Robyn White spent nearly two weeks in jail during which time she was subject to illegal body searches, including an invasive cavity exam, because a New Hampshire State Police Trooper fabricated a crime, according to White’s federal civil rights lawsuit.

Now, White has settled with the state of New Hampshire for more than $200,000. 

White’s attorney, Larry Vogelman, did not respond to a request for comment. According to the settlement agreement obtained through a right-to-know request, White is getting $212,500 from the state of New Hampshire to settle the lawsuit.

 Mary Beth Purcell, director of claims with municipal insurance carrier Primex, said Strafford County also settled with White for $25,000.

The trooper who initiated the stop, Haden Wilber, is on the list recently released by the state of police officers who left their jobs under questionable circumstances.

 Wilber was discharged from the New Hampshire State Police in August after 13 years in law enforcement. His discharge was reported to the Police Standards and Training Council as problematic, though it is unclear why.

 Wilber’s name does not appear on the partial Laurie List released this week by the Attorney General’s Office. About 90 of the 281 names on the secret list of dishonest officers were released with more expected in three months if the officers don’t file a lawsuit in Superior Court to argue why their names should be removed as allowed under a new state law. The Laurie List, or Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, catalogues police officers with credibility problems. 

Wilber currently works in real estate and did not respond to a request for comment sent to his work email.

As part of the settlement, the state and Wilber deny any wrongdoing regarding White’s arrest. According to the lawsuit, White, now 46, was stopped on Feb. 10 of 2017 on Interstate 95 by Wilber. The pretext of the stop was that White allegedly had snow on her rear lights. 

Wilber illegally searched White’s handbag during the stop, finding heroin residue, according to the lawsuit. At this time Trooper Matthew Locke arrived as backup to Wilber. Wilber called the Franklin County Maine Sheriff’s Department to check for warrants on White, as she is from Avon, Maine.

During the conversation with an unnamed dispatcher, Wilber learned that an unknown woman in Avon, Maine had recently been found to be hiding drugs in her vagina. 

“Whoever answered the phone had not heard of White but told defendants Wilber and Locke that Avon is a small town, and six months ago, in an unrelated case, the Franklin County Sheriff pulled over a woman who hid oxycodone pills in her vagina,” the lawsuit states.

This fact, unrelated to White’s stop, was enough for Wilber and Locke to bring enhanced charges against White, according to the lawsuit.

“On this information and this information alone, defendants Wilber and Locke ‘suspected’ White was either the same woman from Avon, Maine, who hid oxycodone pills in her vagina, or had done the same thing. White denied hiding any drugs on her person,” the lawsuit states.

White was taken to the Strafford County House of Corrections where she was given a body scan from the jail’s x-ray scanner. That scan found no drugs, but an unnamed jail staffer claimed to have seen abnormalities in White’s abdomen, and that was used to continue to hold White in jail until she “passed” the drugs out of her system. She was kept at the Rockingham County House of Corrections for five days, and no drugs came out of her body, according to the lawsuit.

White was initially charged with possession of a controlled substance and transporting drugs and her bail was set at $250 on Feb. 10. But, according to the lawsuit, Wilber brought an enhanced charge of “delivery of articles prohibited” for the phantom drugs in White’s vagina, and bail was then set at $5,000 on Feb. 13.

“Defendants Locke and Wilber fabricated evidence of White’s additional drug offenses. This fabricated evidence was conveyed to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then used that evidence to convince the judge to raise the bail, and order a body scan,” the lawsuit states.

On Feb. 15, White was brought to the Valley Street Jail in Manchester where she was given drug tests against her will. The test came back negative for drugs, according to the lawsuit. At this point, White passed a drug test and a body scan, but she was still jailed.

“Despite her negative drug test results, White was forced to wait a sixth day at Valley Street Jail for something to ‘pass.’ Again, White adamantly denied having any drugs in her, and nothing ‘passed,’” the lawsuit states.

Police brought White back to the Rockingham County jail on Feb. 16 where she was held because she could not afford the $5,000 bail, which was based on the fabricated charge from Wilber and Locke, according to the lawsuit. She stayed there another seven days, and still no drugs came out of her body.

Finally, on Feb. 21, after close to two weeks of no drugs “passing,” prosecutors dropped the “delivery of articles prohibited” charge and White’s bail was reduced back to $250. She was still not free to go. Judge Sawako Gardner set a bail condition that White undergo yet another body scan. 

White was brought back to the Strafford County House of Corrections where she was again scanned, and an “abnormality” was again found, according to the lawsuit. At this point, New Hampshire State Police Trooper James Roe arrived and told White she was staying in jail while police obtained a warrant for a vaginal and rectal exam to look for the hidden drugs that had stayed hidden despite nearly two weeks in jail, according to the lawsuit.

“This warrant was based on evidence fabricated by Wilber and Locke. They told White she could either wait for the warrant, which would take considerable time, or consent to the invasive search,” the lawsuit states.

White agreed to go to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital on Feb. 23, 13 days after her arrest based on snow on her rear lights. She was given the invasive rectal and vaginal exams, and still no drugs were found. 

At 7:14 p.m. on Feb. 23, White was released from police custody on what amounted to a simple possession charge, according to the lawsuit.

“On a simple possession charge, White would have been released on bail day one,” the lawsuit states. 

On Sept. 29 of 2017, Wentworth-Douglass sent White a bill for the exam. Though the hospital was initially named as a defendant in the case, Wentworth-Douglass Director of Communications and Community Relations Adam Bagni said White agreed to dismiss the hospital from the case as it was not involved in her illegal detention. 

“Wentworth-Douglass was voluntarily dismissed from this case, at the plaintiff’s request, and no payment was made. This occurred very early in this case and we have not been associated with any related further actions,” Bagni said.

Locke is still employed as a state trooper. It is not clear if either Locke or Wilber were brought before the Police Standards and Training council for discipline in relation to White’s arrest. Locke did not respond to a request for comment sent to his work email. 

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