Arrest Affidavits of Accused YDC Abusers Unsealed; Hearing on Payout to First Victim To Win Civil Suit

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DAVID LANE, Union Leader pool photo

Attorney Rus Rilee is pictured with his hand on his client David Meehan's shoulder Monday in Rockingham Superior Court in Brentwood.


The arrest warrant affidavits against several men charged with abusing children in the Sununu Youth Services Center case, formerly known as YDC in Manchester, are now public for the first time since the investigation began almost five years ago.

Hillsborough Superior Court – North Judge William Delker ordered the release of the documents earlier this month. On Monday, 187 pages of New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Kelly LaPointe’s work were unsealed, detailing the horrific physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by staff against the children inside the then-Youth Development Center (YDC).

“It is essential for the people of New Hampshire to know what their government did to these kids, and how it happened, so the appalling abuse of our most vulnerable children is never, ever repeated in the future,” attorney David Vicinanzo said.

Vicinanzo, a former federal prosecutor, is representing survivor David Meehan and more than 1,400 others who say they were abused at YDC when they were incarcerated there as juveniles. Despite close to 1,500 abuse survivors coming forward and high profile lawsuits, the public never had the chance to view the state’s version of the allegations against the YDC criminal suspects until now. 

And only 11 former YDC employees were criminally charged in connection to the YDC scandal, and one man won’t go to trial after being deemed incompetent to stand trial. None of those awaiting trial are being held pre-trial, but one, Jeff Buskey, was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet. 

Much of the details in Sgt. LaPointe’s affidavits are known, thanks to the lawsuits and Meehan’s four week civil trial in the case he filed against the state Department of Health and Human Services. The jury awarded Meehan $38 million early last month, though the state is contesting the final amount it will have to pay, insisting the payout is capped by law at $475,000.

Meehan’s complaint alleges the state is liable for allowing the abuse, and covering it up. The jury found the state acted in a “wanton, malicious or oppressive” manner in sexually, physically and emotionally abusing Meehan in the 1990s.  

At a Rockingham Superior Court hearing Monday, attorneys representing the state and Meehan’s attorneys both held their ground arguing why they were correctly interpreting the law relative to the payout for Meehan.

The state claims that because the jury marked a box on the jury form indicating liability for one incident, the jury’s award must be capped at $475,000. Hours after the verdict became public, and the state’s position that the award ought to be capped made headlines, jurors contacted Meehan’s lawyers stating they did not know about the cap, and were shocked by the state’s position.

After reviewing the testimony and discounting incidents he felt were not proved at trial, Judge Andrew Schulman previously wrote the jury’s $38 million does not make sense if it found only one incident of abuse.

On Monday, Judge Schulman discussed options for moving forward but no decision was made. Attorneys for both sides will file more motions to the court so it is still not known whether the state must pay Meehan $475,000 or $38 million.

The state is self-insured, so taxpayer dollars from the state’s General Fund are used to pay out awards in verdicts against the state, not any insurance policy.

After Monday’s hearing, Attorney Rus Rilee, who also represents Meehan, said: “It’s frustrating to have a jury verdict like this where the state is trying to take it away and trying to do it in a way that violates our client’s constitutional rights.

“It’s also frustrating to hear the tone from the Attorney General’s Office about minimizing the abuse of Mr. Meehan and trying to make this into one big unfortunate incident as opposed to hundreds of rapes which is what it is…” Rilee said.

While LaPointe’s affidavits that were unsealed Monday are focused on the men accused of raping children, the picture of YDC administration that emerges shows an institution that allowed staff to do whatever they wanted.

Former staffer Gene Murray and staffer George Kalampalikis told LaPointe the residential cottages were run as mini-fiefdoms where the House Leader had final say. In East Cottage where suspect Brad Asbury ruled, a group of staffers were known to use physical force to get the children to comply with rules. 

The rough staffers included men charged as abuse suspects Jeff Buskey, Stephen Murphy, James Woodlock, Frank Davis, and Tommy Searles, according to LaPointe’s affidavit. 

LaPointe found records indicating Meehan had been kept on room confinement, the equivalent of solitary confinement, for 59 days, something state attorneys disputed during his civil trial. Kalampalikis told LaPointe he observed one resident being kept in room confinement for 144 days straight.

Elsewhere in the affidavits LaPointe found records of YDC supervisors covering up abuse allegations. On May 8 of 1998, after he was allegedly raped and assaulted by Murphy and Buskey, Meehan filed a complaint with the supposedly independent YDC ombudsman.

LaPointe found notes in the daily staff log books between Buskey, Murphy, and YDC Supervisor Bob Kukla about the complaint paperwork Meehan submitted.

“I put it on your desk for you to look at, I didn’t bring it down until you saw it as requested,” Buskey wrote to Kukla. 

On May 10, Kukla sent Murphy a note to look at the complaint and Kukla’s written response. “It’s on my desk under glass. I’ve signed it, please send it forward this Monday,” Kukla wrote.

LaPointe also notes in her affidavit that YDC officials claimed at one point employment records for Searles did not exist. Those documents were later found in a basement storage area.

Meehan’s May 8, 1998 complaint never resulted in a referral to the ombudsman, and there was no investigation, according to LaPointe’s affidavit. 

The affidavits released Monday only deal with the cases against Asbury, Buskey, Woodlock, Murphy, Davis, and Searles. However, there are still cases pending against former YDC staffers Lucien Poulette, Jonathan Brand, Trevor Middleton, Stanley Watson, and Victor Mallet. 

Vicinanzo said the release is a good start, but the state needs to do more.

“The disclosure of the affidavits is a step in that direction. Another decent and helpful step toward justice would be for the governor as the representative of the state to officially apologize to these child victims,” Vicinanzo said.

The suspects were all indicted in 2021, and the Task Force has not charged any other suspect since. None of the men accused of abuse have yet gone to trial.

Michael Garrity, spokesman for New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, said the investigation is ongoing.

“At this time, we cannot comment on specific cases.  In general, sexual assault can be the most challenging type of criminal case, especially when it involves an investigation into incidents that occurred decades ago,” Garrity said. “There are legal considerations that must be reviewed as to each specific case.  Further, the passage of time makes it difficult for investigators to obtain corroborating evidence and some prosecutions may be barred by the statute of limitations.”

The state has been criticized by Vicinanzo and others for the conflict of interest in prosecuting the criminal case while also defending the state Department of Health and Human Services in the civil cases. This conflict is highlighted by the fact Davis will never go to trial.

Lawyers for the state in the civil case blocked Vicinanzo from deposing Davis under oath by raising concerns about his competency. Davis has since been found incompetent to stand trial by the court and will not go to trial. and the charges against him have been dropped.

Reporter Nancy West contributed to this report.

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