Nottingham Republican Rep. Kyle Tasker, 30, was arrested Tuesday on four felonies. Nottingham police
Nottingham Rep. Kyle Tasker, a 30-year-old Republican, is shown here in a screenshot of a YouTube video. Nottingham police
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Kyle Tasker, a Republican state representative who served on the House Children and Family Law Committee, was arrested Tuesday and accused of soliciting sex from an underage teenage girl.
Tasker, 30, of Nottingham, was detained Tuesday afternoon by state and local police after a weekslong investigation showed he used a Facebook account to lure the girl, 14, into a sexual encounter at a secluded location near Lucas Pond in Northwood, police said. A search of Tasker’s home also uncovered “vast amounts” of controlled drugs, including marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and Suboxone, according to a police affidavit.
Tasker was arraigned Wednesday on four felonies, including three drug charges and one charge of using a computer to lure a minor, a Class B felony that carries a potential prison sentence and lifetime sex offender registration. He entered no pleas on each count and is being held on $250,000 cash bail.
News of the arrest quickly reverberated through the State House, where Tasker has become a controversial figure over three terms. He drew headlines in 2012 when he dropped a concealed handgun during a House committee hearing, and again two years later when he quipped online about victims of domestic violence.
House Speaker Shawn Jasper called for Tasker’s immediate resignation Wednesday, and removed him from his post with the Children and Family Law Committee. Tasker represents Candia, Deerfield and Nottingham.
“From talking to officers from Nottingham, there is no question in my mind that he is not qualified to serve as a member of this House,” said Jasper, a Hudson Republican. The crimes, if true, he added, are “beyond the bounds of human decency.”
Police say they were first contacted in mid-January by the girl’s mother, who accused Tasker of sexual harassment. The girl said she first met Tasker through a friend’s relatives and he began sending her suggestive messages on Facebook, at one point even proposing a three-way sexual encounter with the girl, according to the affidavit.
The girl later told investigators that Tasker offered to supply her and her friends with drugs and alcohol. She said Tasker had explicitly asked her how old she was, and that, when she told him, he replied, “This is how guys my age get into trouble.”
It was not the first time Tasker’s name has been passed on to local authorities, according to the affidavit. Sgt. Ross Oberlin of the Nottingham Police Department wrote in the document that a “concerned parent” reported in 2013 that Tasker had been sending friend requests to young high school girls on Facebook. A resource officer at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy had also previously notified Nottingham police Chief Gunnar Foss that a school counselor had mentioned “Tasker and dealing drugs,” the affidavit states.
Foss did not immediately respond to a phone call Wednesday seeking comment. Tasker’s attorney, Alan Cronheim, also did not return a message left with his assistant.
According to police, a detective later took control of the girl’s online account and, in late January, began exchanging messages with Tasker as if he was the 14-year-old girl. Tasker requested that they switch to a German messaging application called Telegram, which uses encryption technology to increase privacy, according to the affidavit. Within a few days, he began suggesting they meet up for oral sex, police said.
The exchanges reached a new level Monday, when Tasker again proposed meeting up with the girl, police said, this time at a secluded beach area near Lucas Pond on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Tasker texted Tuesday afternoon that he was en route from the State House, according to the affidavit. When he arrived, officers from Nottingham, Northwood and the state Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force swarmed in. A loaded semi-automatic handgun was retrieved from inside of his car, as well as marijuana, a glass smoking pipe and a bottle of alcohol, according to the affidavit.
Based on the quantity and arrangement of the drugs police say they seized from Tasker’s Smoke Street home, authorities believe he has been operating a “significant drug distribution center” from the residence.
Several fellow lawmakers appeared shocked Wednesday over the allegations, but some were also quick to note Tasker’s prior provocations, including the domestic violence remarks. On a public Facebook page, Tasker posted a stick figure picture depicting a graphic sexual act with the caption “50,000 battered women and I still eat mine plain.” He later explained he was trying to defend another representative and did not mean the joke to be offensive.
Tasker has served on the Children and Family Law Committee for the last year, but his attendance was irregular, according to several members. Before that, he served on the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and had recently led a legislative push to require police officers to wear body cameras.
The House can expel members through a majority vote, and any representative can make that motion on the floor, according to House Clerk Paul Smith. The next session is March 9.
Rep. Debra DeSimone, vice chairwoman of the Children and Family Law Committee, said she was “disgusted” and “appalled” by the charges.
“We dedicate our lives to protecting children and families,” said DeSimone, an Atkinson Republican. “If these allegations are true, a monster has hidden on our committee.”
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, email@example.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @amorrisNH.)