By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
MANCHESTER – A man accused of being one of the worst offenders in the Sununu Youth Services Center, formerly known as YDC, abuse scandal is finally getting a competency hearing, almost two years after the issue was raised by state lawyers trying to stop his testimony.
Frank Davis, 82, is scheduled for a hearing in Hillsborough Superior Court — North in Manchester on April 22. That comes after missed deadlines forced Judge William Delker to re-issue the order for a competency evaluation late last year.
Davis allegedly raped dozens of children over two decades while he was a state employee at the YDC as part of his alleged reign of brutality. If Davis is found incompetent to stand trial, he will never face justice for his years of alleged abuse.
Attorney David Vicinanzo, with Nixon Peabody, represents more than 1,300 YDC survivors. The legal handling of Davis’ competency demonstrates the state’s conflict of interest in the case. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting a handful of alleged abusers, while lawyers with its civil division are defending the state against victims’ claims.
Davis’ competency was not in question until he was scheduled to give a deposition under oath in the civil lawsuits last year. That’s when attorney’s for the state raised the matter, claiming that Davis is suffering from dementia. Within days, Davis’ criminal defense team picked up on the issue and filed a motion seeking the evaluation. The pending competency question effectively blocked Davis from both being deposed, and from being prosecuted.
“Because the state raised this, his lawyer now has legal grounds to prevent his deposition. There’s no evidence of a lack of competency. The only reason it exists is the state raised it in a theoretical way to stop the deposition,” Vicinanzo told InDepthNH.org last year.
Vicinanzo was trying to get Davis to testify under oath about who else at the YDC and the state knew about the crimes he was allegedly committing when the state civil lawyers raised competency. The civil lawyers not only stopped the deposition, but also blocked the state’s prosecutors from being able to pursue the criminal case.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office began investigating the alleged abuses at YDC in 2019, and formed a special task force in 2020 to lead the investigation and prosecution. But in the more than four years since the investigation started, Davis is one of only 11 men charged. The last indictment came in 2022.
Since the task force started, though, more than 1,300 survivors have come forward to file civil lawsuits against the state. The potential monetary damages will likely eclipse the state’s $100 million settlement fund.
The survivor lawsuits name hundreds of alleged abusers compared to the 11 facing trial. While many of the civil claims have passed the time under New Hampshire’s statute of limitations for criminal charges, at least 243 alleged abusers named in the lawsuits are still in time frame and can be charged.
Damien Fisher is a veteran New Hampshire reporter who lives in the Monadnock region with his wife, writer Simcha Fisher, their many children, as well as their dog, cat, parakeet, ducks, and seamonkeys.