Concord, NH — According to a recent investigation by the state of New Hampshire's attorney general's office, a state-run youth detention center has been ground zero for an utterly horrifying child torture and sex abuse ring spanning the course of decades. According to officials and a recent lawsuit, hundreds of victims have come forward alleging the abuse by over 100 government employees, and multiple arrests have been made.
The abuse took place at the Sununu Youth Services Center, formerly known as the Youth Development Center. In 2019, the taxpayer funded center became the subject of an investigation after two staffers were arrested. The two former staffers were charged with 82 counts of child rape.
According to investigators, however, those charges were all temporarily dropped in order to expand the investigation. Now, two years later, the original two staffers have been re-arrested as well as six others for their roles in the child rape and torture ring which spanned decades
Though, according to the AP, the attorney general’s office didn’t comment on the possibility of further arrests, they did announce that this was “merely a step forward” and that the investigation will continue — implying that there are many more abusers to go after.
“Today’s arrests make clear that this administration is committed to holding these perpetrators accountable for their detestable actions,” said Gov. Chris Sununu — the facility's namesake. “This is not over, and we will continue to investigate these horrific allegations.”
According to the Associated Press:
The new arrestees include Lucien Poulette, 65, of Auburn, who is charged with 33 counts — including rape and sexual assault — involving seven victims between 1994 and 2005. Bradley Asbury, 66, of Dunbarton, is charged with being an accomplice to the rape of a former resident between 1997 and 1998. And Frank Davis, 79, of Hopkinton, is charged with one count of rape and five counts of sexual assault involving two victims between 1996 and 1997.
Instead of the dozens of charges they previously faced, Jeffrey Buskey, 54, of Quincy, Massachusetts, is now charged with five counts of rape involving four children between 1996 and 1999, while Stephen Murphy, 51, of Danvers, Massachusetts, is charged with five counts of rape involving three children between 1997 and 1999.
James Woodlock, 56, of Manchester, was charged with three counts of being an accomplice to rape between 1997 and 1998. David Meehan, the lead plaintiff in the civil lawsuit, alleges that Woodlock repeatedly beat him, held him down while Buskey raped him and told him he had “simply misunderstood events” when he spoke up during a group counseling session.
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In a worrisome move, after the original investigation was launched, Woodlock left the facility and became a probation officer — for children. However, he was fired this week from his position after his arrest was made public.
On top of the arrests this week, several of the alleged child rapists who were arrested have also been named in a lawsuit in which more than 200 men and women allege they were physically or sexually abused as children by 150 staffers at the Manchester facility from 1963 to 2018.
200 men and women allege they were physically or sexually abused as children by 150 staffers at the Manchester facility from 1963 to 2018.
According to the lawsuit, the facility was a “magnet for predators.” According to the lead attorney, Rus Rilee, children were gang raped by counselors, beaten while being raped and forced to sexually abuse each other, he said. Some ended up with sexually transmitted diseases; one ended up pregnant.
"Staff members choked children, beat them unconscious, burned them with cigarettes and broke their bones, Rilee said. Counselors set up “fight clubs” and forced kids to compete for food. Children were locked in solitary confinement for weeks or months, sometimes shackled or strapped naked to their beds. Kept away from classrooms while their injuries healed, some can’t read or write today," he said, according to the AP.
“These broken, shattered children were then unleashed into society with no education, no life skills and no ability to meaningfully function,” said Rilee.
Despite reassurances from the state Division for Children, Youth and Families claiming their mission is to protect children, the child rape and torture was systemic, according to the lawsuit.
“The systemic, governmental child abuse that occurred was allowed to occur because there wasn’t sufficient oversight, and the state was institutionally negligent in their hiring, training, supervision and retention polices,” Rilee said. “It’s pretty clear to me that this facility was a magnet for predators.”