YDC Victims and Supporters Rally at State House Seeking Federal Investigation

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Paula Tracy photo

Survivors of abuse when they were children at the Youth Development Center and their supporters rallied Friday at the State House hoping to get federal investigators to step in.


CONCORD – Survivors of the notorious Youth Development Center in Manchester who were allegedly abused for years by state employees held a rally at the State House Friday urging the state to stop the harmful impacts it continues to inflict on survivors.

Formerly known as YDC, and the current Sununu Youth Services Center, the state is facing hundreds of civil lawsuits as a result of the abuse allegations at the juvenile detention facility. The rally, attended by about 100 people included a collection of signatures urging the U.S. Department of Justice to step in to the YDC investigation.

There were 11 former state workers arrested in 2021 for crimes related to the abuse, but many remain free, said one man who identified as a victim.

None of the criminal or civil cases have gone to trial yet. Some victims have been critical because the state Attorney General’s Office criminal bureau is prosecuting the crimes while its civil bureau is defending the state from the civil lawsuits filed by victims.

The office says it maintains a firewall between the civil and criminal bureaus in cases like these.

The state has set up a $100 million settlement fund which is seen as inadequate by many of the survivors.
A consolidated master complaint states that the abuse had been known for decades, and covered up by those in power including attorneys general dating back several decades.

The alleged abuse includes sexual abuse, physical violence, torture, excessive use of force, excessive use of solitary confinement and physical restraints, and mental abuse.

Eric Savage, who was held at YDC from age 11 to 18 said he was taught lessons that were not good, and left him with no way to act as an adult.

Citing the fact that a small child was sitting in front of him as he spoke, he said he would skip the graphic details.

But he had a message to the state:

“Stop it. That’s it,” he said. “I just want it to stop…every single kid who has been through those doors knows what goes on in that place…nobody cared.”

Corrine Moon, another survivor, said she was sent to the Manchester facility as a runaway and, “Pregnancies happened. Miscarriages happened. Abortions happened. Sharing STDs happened. This environment felt completely normal to me and I can’t explain why,” Moon said.

Attending was Michael Gilpatrick, his wife and his wife’s grandparents.

Gilpatrick said, he too was abused, like the speakers and he is now wondering why this case is not a federal investigation, arguing that the state cannot properly investigate because it is also the defendant.

One poster listed not only some of the alleged perpetrators but also Gov. Chris Sununu, Attorney General John Formella, and former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who is now running for governor, and others.

The state has reduced the population and plans to close the Sununu Center and move to a more community centered model.

Mike Garrity, Attorney General John Formella’s spokesman, said the scheduling of the criminal trials in these cases was placed on hold by the court for a period of time pending the resolution of the management of vast amounts of digital discovery.

“The office has recently submitted structuring orders and agreements on deadlines in Hillsborough County Superior Court-Northern District to move these cases closer towards trial,” he said.

There are now cases scheduled for trials in 2024 and 2025.  “We anticipate that once joinder issues are resolved in several cases this upcoming fall and winter, then more will be scheduled for trial.  There is also a competency issue still pending in one of the cases (State v. Frank Davis). Victor Malavet’s case is pending in Merrimack County Superior Court,” Garrity said.

He said the criminal investigations remain active and ongoing.  Any person with information regarding criminal conduct at the YDC is urged to contact the N.H. Attorney General’s YDC Task Force hotline at 603-271-4000, Garrity said.

In general, Garrity said sexual assault can be the most challenging type of criminal case, especially when it involves an investigation into incidents that occurred decades ago.  “There are legal considerations that must be reviewed as to each specific case.  Further, the passage of time makes it difficult for investigators to obtain corroborating evidence and some prosecutions may be barred by the statute of limitations,” Garrity said.

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