Six former staffers at a New Hampshire state-run youth detention center were arrested Wednesday on charges related to the rape or abuse of nearly a dozen children in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Two former counselors of the Sununu Youth Services Center — Jeffrey Buskey, 54, and Stephen Murphy, 51 — were charged in July 2019 with beating and raping a teenage boy 82 times at the facility formerly known as the Youth Development Center in the 1990s, the AP reported.
The facility, located in Manchester, serves children ordered to a secure institutional setting by the juvenile justice system. It has more than 200 claims of physical or sexual abuse allegations by men and women dating as far back as 1963 and has reportedly been under a criminal investigation since July 2019. (RELATED: Report: Former Youth Center Intern Says She Was Told To Destroy Notes About A Teen Boy’s Sexual Assault Allegations)
The charges against the two men were dropped in 2020 to strengthen the investigation, but both men were arrested again Wednesday. Buskey is reportedly charged with five counts of rape involving four children between 1996 and 1999. Murphy is charged with five counts of rape involving three children between 1997 and 1999, the AP reported.
Four other men were also arrested Wednesday. Lucien Poulette, 65, was charged with 33 counts — including rape and sexual assault — involving seven victims between 1994 and 2005, the AP reported.
Bradley Asbury, 66, is reportedly charged with being an accomplice to the rape of a former resident between 1997 and 1998. Frank Davis, 79, is charged with one count of rape and five counts of sexual assault involving two victims between 1996 and 1997, the AP reported.
Several of those arrested Wednesday were named in a lawsuit from 2020 involving more than 200 men and women who alleged they were abused by 150 staffers of the facility while they were children, the AP reported. The attorney representing the plaintiffs said children were gang raped by counselors and forced to fight each other for food, among other allegations that include beatings and sexual assault, according to the AP.
The lead plaintiff in the civil lawsuit, David Meehan, alleged James Woodlock, 56, repeatedly beat him and held him down while Buskey raped him. Meehan also said Woodluck claimed he had “simply misunderstood events” when he revealed what happened during a counseling session, according to the AP.
After Woodlock left his position at the Youth Development Center, he reportedly became a juvenile probation and parole officer until he departed on leave in 2017. Woodlock was charged with three counts of being an accomplice to rape between 1997 and 1998.
“My clients are thrilled that the state has taken the important next step in holding these men criminally responsible for the unspeakable crimes they have committed,” attorney Rus Rilee said, according to the AP. “We have faith that this is just the beginning of the arrests and indictments of not only all of the perpetrators, but also all of those that allowed it to happen.”
The suspects who are New Hampshire residents are expected to appear in court Thursday, as authorities seek extradition from Massachusetts for Buskey and Murphy, according to the AP.
Days prior to the arrests, the AP reported that a former intern at the detention center alleged that a supervisor told her to destroy notes regarding a teenage boy’s allegations of assault by a former counselor at the facility in October 2017.