David Meehan Disputes YDC Records in Civil Abuse Trial Against the State

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David Meehan is pictured during cross-examination in the civil trial against the state Department of Health and Human Services.


BRENTWOOD – David Meehan has already spent days on the witness stand delving into what happened to him at the Sununu Youth Services Center – also known as YDC – the brutal rapes, the months of isolation, and the crippling mental and physical toll he’s lived with since.

On Monday, Meehan confronted the lies he said YDC staff told for decades to cover up the abuse.

 The state’s lawyer, Martha Gaythwaite, tried to impeach Meehan’s prior testimony using internal YDC reports and documents. The problem for Gaythwaite and the state is the fact Meehan claims much of the official records from 20 years ago are bogus.

Asked by Gaythwaite to agree that the contemporaneous reports are more accurate than his memories, Meehan refused.

“I don’t think it has much to do with memory,” Meehan said.

Again and again throughout Monday’s cross-examination in the civil lawsuit he filed against the state Department of Health and Human Services, Meehan refused to accept the official records Gaythwaite presented.

“These are not my words.” “That’s not what happened.” “There’s a lot of stuff written down here.”

The incident that led to his hospitalization with a severe groin injury is one example. Meehan testified last week he got the injury trying to fight off a rape attempt by YDC staffer Jeff Buskey.

During the struggle, Meehan passed out and awoke outside on a field. His injury was reported as a football accident when he was then taken to Elliot Hospital in Manchester.

Gaythwaite produced the official reports backing up the football story, but those reports were largely written by Buskey and other men Meehan accuses of abuse.

Meehan’s lawsuit in Rockingham Superior Court is the first of more than 1,000 against the state brought by survivors to get to trial. The plaintiffs, like Meehan, were taken from their homes and put into state care.

Some because they got in legal trouble. Some because they were running away from abusive and dysfunctional homes. Some because they suffered undiagnosed mental illnesses. And some because of a combination of these factors.

Meehan’s direct testimony about his abuse took up most of last week’s trial days. He discussed his abusive home life, the legal trouble he got in running away and stealing, as well as the drug addiction and mental health problems he developed when he aged out of YDC.

 Gaythwaite implied through her questioning Meehan is mentally unstable, violent, and now looking for a payday. She wanted to find contradictions between his testimony now and the statements he made while at YDC as a teen, even though Meehan testified he was abused, manipulated, and coerced into doing and saying things by staff.

 Gaythwaite wanted to ask about his run-ins with police in the past few years, like a wellness check that resulted in a hospital stay because of a mental health crisis.

“How much of this am I supposed to be forced to remember?” Meehan asked. “The state’s using the same excuse my parents were using … I was a bad kid so I deserved it? I’m a bad man now so I made it up?”

Toward the end of Meehan’s testimony on Monday, after he became emotional during the state’s questions, Judge Andrew Schulman admonished him for swearing on the witness stand.

“I’m angry and I’m not allowed to get angry,” Meehan said.

Gaythwaite’s strategy to discredit Meehan’s story is ultimately risky for the state. The men Meehan and other YDC survivors named as abusers like Buskey, Stephen Murphy, and Frank Davis, are also criminal defendants.

The state’s YDC Task Force managed to indict 11 men for the alleged abuse, though none have yet gone to trial.

Gaythwaite’s defense for the state in the civil trial provides a likely roadmap for the criminal defendants when they challenge state prosecutors.

The trial resumes Tuesday with testimony from psychiatrist Terry Allen Kupers, an expert on effects of sexual abuse on children and on incarcerated men and teens. Kupers is a witness for the defense who has evaluated Meehan.

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