AG's office says it believes YDC victims, even after charging Epping man with making a false report




  • In US
  • 2022-10-06 04:01:00Z
  • By New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester

Oct. 6-After the state Attorney General's Office announced that a man had pleaded guilty to making a false report to police about abuse at the Sununu Youth Services Center, prosecutors said they still believe victims and they urge those abused as children in state custody to come forward.

Travis Garand, 24, of Epping pleaded guilty Tuesday to making a false report to law enforcement, with prosecutors saying Garand alleged a person named "JB" attempted to sexually assault him at the Sununu Center.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward said the state's decision to prosecute Garand does not mean that prosecutors do not believe victims of abuse.

"We prosecute when we have probable cause that a crime was committed and we believe we can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt," Ward said. "This is an individual that lied to law enforcement in an effort to enrich himself financially."

Ward said prosecutors' review of records showed it would have been impossible for Garand's allegations to have been true. Garand later said he made up the allegation, Ward said.

"This isn't a case where it was a subjective determination," said Tim Sullivan. "It was simply impossible for what he alleged to have happened to him."

Adults who alleged they were abused as children over decades at the Youth Development Center have said in civil complaints that their stories of abuse were not believed by police and prosecutors.

Ward said 14 criminal cases are pending against former staff of the juvenile detention facility. Although the Attorney General's Office has been trying to direct victims to use an arbitration process to receive a piece of a $100 million fund set up by the Legislature earlier this year, hundreds of others who allege they were abused as children in state custody are pursuing civil lawsuits.

One of the attorneys representing hundreds of plaintiffs, David Vicinanzo, said in an email that he believes people alleging abuse are telling the truth.

"All our 800-plus child victims know their most important responsibility is to tell the truth, despite being abused and disbelieved decades ago," Vincinazo wrote.

"There are dozens of child abusers who still haven't been charged criminally by the State within the limitations period. Hopefully, State resources will be used to bring those child rapists and child torturers to justice soon."

Ward said he did not want victims who might not perfectly remember the details of their abuse to be discouraged from coming forward.

"People make honest mistakes. That's not a crime," Ward said. "This was a deliberate attempt to profit off this situation."

"I think we have been steadfast and consistent in encouraging victims to come forward," Ward said. "Those victims have been believed."

Ward said victims have come forward "by the dozens" but declined to specify how many exactly have made allegations of abuse to state police and prosecutors.

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Michael Garrity, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said the hotline to report abuse at the Youth Development Center of Sununu Youth Services Center is still open.

Any person with information regarding criminal conduct at the YDC is urged to contact the Attorney General's Task Force hotline at 603-271-4000.

Anyone who was physically or sexually assaulted or abused at the YDC is encouraged to contact their local crisis center. A list of local crisis centers is available at www.nhcadsv.org/member-programs.html.

To speak with an advocate, call the statewide domestic violence hotline at 1-866-644-3574 or the statewide sexual assault hotline at 1-800-277-5570.

jgrove@unionleader.com

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