Father of murdered Nashua 3-year-old sues DCYF

  • William Boucher Jr. and Brielle Gage

  • Brielle Gage

Monitor staff
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The father of a murdered toddler is suing the state child protection agency that was warned of ongoing abuse in the child’s Nashua home for more than a year before her death.

William Boucher Jr., the father of 3-year-old Brielle Gage, filed the civil lawsuit against the Division for Children, Youth and Families and Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire in November in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester. Attorney Mark Knights, who is representing CASA, advised the court last week that the private service organization had reached a confidential settlement with Boucher.

Nearly all documents filed in the case are under seal, meaning the lawsuit itself is not available for public inspection. Boucher, represented by Bedford attorney Rus Rilee, is requesting a jury trial on the remaining complaints against DCYF if the parties are unable to settle.

Brielle was brutally beaten to death by her mother, Katlyn Marin, two days before Thanksgiving in November 2014. An autopsy later revealed Brielle was beaten so badly she suffered eight fractured ribs, bruises all over her small body and bleeding in her brain.

Marin is serving a sentence of 45 years to life after a jury convicted her in August 2016 of second-degree murder. Her appeal is pending before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

DCYF conducted 10 investigations on Marin following reports of abuse and neglect. One of those investigations was opened months before Brielle’s murder.

The toddler and her four brothers, who ranged in age from 9 months to 8 years old, were removed from Marin’s care in April 2014 when she came under police investigation for beating her oldest son with a studded belt, according to police records detailed in a Monitor investigation. By that June, DCYF had returned the children to Marin with little explanation – while she still faced felony charges for the belt beating.

Both Brielle and Sadee Willott, a Manchester 21-month-old in another case, had been under DCYF supervision before they were killed by their mothers in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

DCYF had investigated eight reports of suspected abuse and neglect during Sadee’s lifetime, and all of them were deemed unfounded. Her mother, Katlin Paquette, was sentenced in January 2017 to 21 to 42 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

The girls’ deaths sparked outcry and led to a series of investigations into the agency, revealing an overworked staff, high employee turnover rates and sometimes lax standards when closing cases.

Rilee, who is representing both families, has also sued the state on behalf of the grandparents of two young girls sexually abused by their biological parents while under DCYF’s watch.

The civil lawsuit accuses DCYF of failing to protect the young girls from “horrific” sexual abuse by their biological parents despite repeated warning signs. The grandparents, who are now the girls’ adoptive parents, allege the abuse occurred during supervised and unsupervised visits in 2013. The parents pleaded guilty in 2014 to felonious sexual assault charges and to manufacturing child pornography. Each was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)