Expert Testifies David Meehan Was Tortured as Teen at YDC

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David Meehan watches Dt. Terry Allen Kupers testify via video Tuesday in Rockingham Superior Court.


BRENTWOOD – David Meehan’s severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the worst cases Dr. Terry Allen Kupers ever encountered in his long career treating victims of child abuse, and it all stems from his years of being raped, beaten, and tortured by staff at the Sununu Youth Services Center, then called YDC in Manchester.

“The traumas Mr. Meehan was forced to endure in YDC are some of the most outrageous I have seen,” Kupers testified.

Kupers, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Dylan Gee were called by Meehan’s legal team on Tuesday to give expert testimony in his civil trial against the state Department of Health and Human Services. The trial in Rockingham Superior Court is the first of more than 1,000 lawsuits brought by men and women who claim they were also subject to horrific abuse by state employees.

Meehan testified for days about the rapes and beatings he suffered from YDC staffers like Jeffrey Buskey and Stephen Murphy. Testimony and evidence brought by Meehan’s legal team indicate the state refused to believe any complaints children brought against staff, that staff and administration covered up complaints, failed to investigate serious and credible allegations, and doctored official reports and forms to hide the abuse.

Kupers told jurors that on top of the rapes and assaults, Meehan was damaged by the prolonged confinement in YDC’s form of solitary, called Out Of Community, or OCC. Adult inmates subjected to forms of solitary confinement suffer lasting mental health consequences as a result, Kupers said. That significant negative impact is magnified when children are forced into forms of solitary, he said. Solitary confinement interferes with the types of social and emotional learning children need for their long-term well-being.

“If a child is placed in solitary confinement … the loss can be very, very significant,” Kupers said.

Both Kupers and Gee testified that Meehan suffers from obvious and severe PTSD as well as substance abuse disorders, ADHD, and a mood disorder that may be bipolar. Gee’s testimony started toward the end of Tuesday, and did not go into depth before court ended for the day. Gee will be back on the stand Wednesday.

Kupers testified most of the day about what he observed evaluating Meehan and going through his entire medical record. The driving force in Meehan’s mental health struggles is the complex PTSD, Kupers testified. The fear, anxiety, and panic triggered by overwhelming flashbacks are all signs of PTSD, he testified.

The state’s lawyer, Martha Gaythwaite, used much of her cross-examination looking for ways to discredit Kupers as an out-of-touch liberal activist, and not an objective mental health practitioner. She pulled quotes from various public appearances made by Kupers to suggest he is an anti-police, anti-jail activist.

“You have worked with groups seeking to defund police activities,” Gaythwaite said.

Kupers acknowledged he considered himself something of a radical activist at the start of his career, but that is no longer the case and Gaythwaite was pulling his words out of context. The “defund the police” accusation is an example, he said. Kupers, through different professional organizations, works with a variety of groups. That does not mean he agrees with all the people he works with on a given project.

“I don’t believe defunding the police is a legitimate or useful strategy. I think we need the police,” Kupers said.

Gaythwaite tried to discredit Kupers for a speech in which he suggested staff in juvenile detention centers respond to dangerous children with “bear hugs.” Kupers explained that was out of context from a longer speech in which he laid out an ideal option for several staff members to surround the aggressive or disruptive child in a metamorphic “bear hug” and respond to the child with respect while also creating a physical presence around the child. Gaythwaite scoffed at that idea, as she said YDC never had the budget for that many staffers.

“Do you have any idea what the budget was for YDC?” Gaythwaite asked.

“I don’t think rape is a good response to an inadequate budget,” Kupers said.

Gaythwaite sought to also discredit Meehan with her questions to Kupers, alternately implying Meehan suffers from paranoid delusions and that he is intentionally making up symptoms to pursue a payday lawsuit.

Kupers did acknowledge he is being paid more than $20,000 to serve as an expert witness for Meehan, when all of his hours of research, evaluation, and testimony are added together.

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