Testimony: David Meehan Planned To Kill YDC Abuser, But Turned Back

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David Meehan is pictured in Rockingham Superior Court during his civil trial against the state Department of Health and Human Services.


BRENTWOOD – David Meehan bought a gun, clothing, and heroin in preparation to murder Jeff Buskey, the man Meehan says raped and brutalized him as a boy sentenced to the Sununu Youth Services Center, then called YDC, in the 1990s.

It was 2016, more than 20 years since Meehan finally got released from YDC, but he wasn’t free. Meehan testified Friday in Rockingham Superior Court at his civil trial against the state of New Hampshire he struggled for years with his anger and addiction, stopping short of killing men like Jeff Buskey several times. He would get close, as close as being outside their windows, he said, but had always turned back.

“That’s not who I am. Each time I turn around on myself. I’m not going to be what they thought they could turn me into. I’m not going to take another life for what they did,” Meehan testified.

But by 2016 he was desperate. He was still newly clean from the heroin addiction that put him in jail. His oldest son was getting in trouble fighting with other boys at school, and his wife, Erin Meehan, wanted to know why her husband’s back was found scared and injured during a medical appointment for his hernia. He thought she finally figured out about the years of abuse he hid even from everyone, even her.

Meehan told the jury he walked out on his family and went to live in Massachusetts. And soon he spent his money to kill Buskey, who was also living in Massachusetts at the time. Before he could use the heroin he bought to ease his pain and prepare to murder Buskey, Meehan turned back.

“Something comes over me at that moment that I can’t explain to this day,” Meehan said.

He drove home to New Hampshire, and he finally told his wife what happened when he was a boy. He remembers telling her through tears, “They raped me.”

Meehan’s testimony dominated the trial this week as he took the stand again Friday, for the third straight day, to tell his story. Buskey, Stephen Murphy, and other YDC staffers raped him, beat him, and manipulated the system to keep hiding their actions. His main tormentor, Buskey, beat him, raped him, held a gun to his head during one assault, locked him in his cell for two months, and broke his will, Meehan testified. Showed a photo of himself from 1995, after he got out of the solitary detention during which he was raped almost daily, Buskey said he looked different.

“David doesn’t smile anymore. He’s not the same kid anymore.” Meehan said.

YDC records indicate Meehan’s two-month solitary confinement in the spring of 1998 was discipline for an escape plot that involved Meehan using a screwdriver as a weapon. The reports about the alleged escape plan were written by Buskey and Murphy.

“It is an absolute fabrication,” Meehan testified.

The reason for the long stay away from the rest of the YDC population was to hide the injuries Meehan sustained trying to fight back against the rapes, he testified. Instead, Buskey and Murphy amped up the violence during the solitary detention rapes until Meehan started to submit, he testified. He tried to tell an adult, staffer Tom Searles, but his report was dismissed.

“That doesn’t happen here, little fella,” Searles reportedly said.

Former YDC resident Michael Gilpatrick testified earlier this week he was molested by Searles around the same time period as Meehan was being raped in the facility.

Meehan’s submission to Buskey ended months later when he had enough and tried again to fight back. Buskey got him into a headlock and as they struggled Meehan testified he heard a “pop” and then passed out. He awoke outside on a field. Staff, including the YDC nurse, told him he injured himself playing football and he was taken to Elliot Hospital. Meehan testified he never saw a football his entire four years at YDC.

Meehan finally aged-out of YDC in 1999, and he soon had a child with Erin Meehan, a girl he met in the state system. He struggled to hold down a job to support his young family, and found opioids eased his pain and helped him forget. Meehan said if he didn’t use heroin, all the horror of his YDC years rushed in.

“It’s either continue to use that stuff I have to keep using more and more and more of, or I try to face this thing,” Meehan said.

Meehan used heroin for almost 10 years before a theft arrest in 2012 landed him in jail. He started to get clean, but he still didn’t know what to do about the abuse. After his crisis in 2016, and his plans to kill Buskey, Erin Meehan got him help, and got him to police. In 2017, Meehan told his story to New Hampshire State Police investigators. And he waited.

The state’s response to Meehan’s accusation, and the accusations of now 1,300 YDC survivors, has so far resulted in indictments against 11 former staffers, including Buskey and Murphy. None of the men have yet gone to trial, and there are a hundred more alleged abusers who have yet to be brought to justice.

Meehan is seeking millions from the state in damages, and he is the first survivor to have a trial. All of the YDC lawsuits are anticipated to take the better part of a decade to work their way through court.

“They took away my opportunity to live. I was trapped in this survival mode where I hide from everybody all the time,” Meehan said. “I just want the chance they said they were going to give me.”

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