Special DCYF Panel Hears from Parents, Including One Who Served 10 Years in Prison

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Robert Lamontagne, left, is picture testifying Monday at the House Special Committee for the Division for Children, Youth and Families in the Legislative Office Building in Concord.


CONCORD – Six parents and a state representative testified about their concerns with the state Division for Children, Youth and Families Monday, including one man who said he served more than 10 years in prison, lost his children and much of it was based on a police officer with credibility issues.

The objective of the House Special Committee for the Division for Children, Youth and Families is to analyze the division’s policies and procedures and see if there are breakdowns and gaps and what needs to be fixed and to come up with some solutions for the families in New Hampshire.

During the work session before the public hearing, Harmony Montgomery’s name was mentioned several times. Harmony, 5, was murdered in Manchester by her father Adam Montgomery after failures by child protection officials in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Title 4 assessments were a focus of concern where they believe there is a financial incentive to separate the children from their parents.

“If good men do nothing evil will prevail,” said Joseph Noon of Henniker claiming social workers are lying to parents and attempting to coerce them to cooperate.

He said the department is incentivized to receive federal money to carry out their work which rips families apart.

Robert Lamontagne of Vermont told the special committee he “got strong-armed out of this state” and was “ambushed into a child endangerment case” and served 10 years but was never told about former Keene Police Lt. James McLaughlin’s credibility issues until 40 years later.

Lamontagne was convicted in 1990 on three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. The convictions stem from accusations Lamontagne molested children related to him.

He previously told InDepthNH.org that while there is no evidence to date showing that the convictions were incorrect, Lamontagne maintains his innocence and said he recently heard from the Innocence Project seeking more information about his case.

The so-called “Laurie’s list” of police officers with credibility issues, briefly showed McLaughlin’s name. He rose to fame nationally for his work on tricking pedophiles online to think he was a child and who came to New Hampshire to have sex. He was added to the list for falsifying evidence in a 1985 incident.

McLaughlin’s name was redacted on the list hours after it was first published because he had appealed to Superior Court seeking to have his name removed.

“By sending me to prison they threw me to the lions,” Lamontagne said. Lamontagne’s attorney during his original trial, Bruce Jasper, previously said he was never told about McLaughlin’s credibility issues before his client was convicted.

“There was no Laurie or Brady disclosure made about McLaughlin,” Jasper said. “I’m sure it would have potentially changed the outcome.”

Lamontagne has spent years trying to get someone to listen to his claims of innocence. He has contacted lawyers, politicians, prosecutors, newspapers, and talk radio hosts, all with little to show for his efforts.

“It’s very painful to talk about what I’ve been through,” Lamontagne said.

But on Monday, he made the trip to Concord to tell his story and he said he imagines there are thousands of people out there who lack the strength to tell their story to legislators.

He said his children are “gone” and that he has no contact with them now.

State Rep. Leah Cushman, R-Weare, said due process rights are being violated by the department.

“People are saying ‘help,'” she said. And she called DCYF “administrative tribunals” rather than a court and jury process which she said she believes is unconstitutional.

State Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, said the committee has an unenviable task but he noted children are human beings with rights too, not just parents and that sometimes the little ones “get lost in the shuffle.”

The list of people testifying included a woman who became homeless and lost her disabled children in part due to her partner and former husband and the abuse she suffered, and a man who claimed that the rules of the state are to protect women and children unless the man is more politically connected.

The two-hour hearing is available for viewing on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0B7Ye8i3cw

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