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Former state Senate candidate Howard Pearl arrested on sexual assault charges

Howard Pearl

Howard Pearl

Howard Pearl, who on Wednesday dropped his bid for state Senate District 17 citing an “unforeseen personal issue,” has been arrested and will be charged with misdemeanor sexual assault, Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin said yesterday.

Pearl, a Loudon farmer, turned himself into authorities Wednesday evening and was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail. The sheriff’s department is expected to file a Class A misdemeanor charge in Concord’s district court by Monday, Wiggin said. No charge had been filed as of close of business hours yesterday.

Pearl is scheduled to appear for an arraignment in Concord on Sept. 15.

Wiggin said an arrest affidavit has been sealed, and he declined to detail both the allegation and his department’s investigation into it, explaining it involves a juvenile. Wiggin also declined to provide the gender of the alleged victim, but he said the child was “known” to Pearl.

The incident allegedly occurred several months ago and involved “sexual contact” of some kind at Pearl’s residence in Loudon, Wiggin said.

“The charge is sexual assault, but the circumstances here make it a misdemeanor,” Wiggin said. He said an investigation was ongoing, but would not say whether he expects or is pursuing additional charges.

Wiggin said the case was referred to him a month or two ago by the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Department and county attorney’s office. Both cited professional conflicts of interest, he said. Pearl, who Craig believed to be 58, and Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard have ties through the Merrimack County Republican Committee.

The Belknap County Attorney’s office will be prosecuting the case, Wiggin said. Merrimack County Attorney Scott Murray said Thursday night that he had not seen any paperwork in the case, but had been aware the inquiry was taking place.

Pearl did not return multiple requests for comment. Wiggin believed he had no history of sexual assault.

Pearl, a fourth-generation farmer and the owner of Pearl & Sons Farm on Loudon Ridge, announced his decision to drop out of the Republican primary Wednesday.

“Running for state senate has been one of the best experiences of my life as I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Granite Staters about their thoughts and concerns on how best to move New Hampshire forward,” he said in a brief statement distributed by Michael Dennehy, a local Republican consultant. “Regrettably, I have an unforeseen personal issue and effective immediately I am dropping out of the race.”

His opponent, incumbent Sen. John Reagan, declined to comment yesterday. In a statement Wednesday, Reagan said, “I send my prayers and best wishes for a resolution to the circumstances leading to Howard Pearl’s withdrawal for the State Senate District 17 primary race.”

The race was poised to be a rematch of the 2012 primary race in District 17, in which Reagan defeated Pearl by just 130 votes. The district encompasses Allenstown, Chichester, Deerfield, Epsom, Loudon, Northwood, Nottingham, Pembroke Pittsfield, Raymond and Strafford.

Pearl has never served on the state Legislature, but he is currently a member of the Loudon Zoning Board of Adjustment, according to his campaign biography. He is also a member of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, and sits on several other local boards.

(“Monitor” reporter Kathleen Ronayne contributed to this story. Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

Legacy Comments9

Funny thing... My records show he was a democrat....

What records would that be, Laurie?

Republicans like to pretend on Democrats do bad things. I wonder if that governor of VA that is on trial now used to be a Democrat too? I don't watch Fox Pretend News but I wonder if they are covering it, it is quite juicy.

Maybe like this brief 9-paragraph case reported here: from Canada? with about 60 comments; ____.

No home should be without the latest reference guide, a BloSaurHaas.

Hey Larry, The moral of the story is that of to leave this "Naked and Afraid" up to the TV crews on those remote islands, and when you spank in N.H. of to be effective against denim jeans you've got to use Old Hickory or some other hard wood! (;-) Seriously now I've read to Darlene's reply of June 12'08 but that the "On My Own Terms" link is not working, nor her "Ask Darlene" or Home page of I guess she's retired by now. The one before her states that :"Hitting is hitting" that reminds me of that Biblical saying of not to be a "striker", [ 1 Timothy 3:3 ] as I learned through the school of hard knocks with the zap of electricity from my stun gun to the man messing with my car, and before that of his associate tore down the political poster I had on my building during Town Election when I was a landlord of I grabbed it back of the police charged me with assault (being a pre-liminary attack of BEFORE the threshold) but then my court-appointed attorney told the jury that it was NOT of with any CRIMINAL INTENT as a key factor, plus RSA Ch. 627:8 " Use of Force in Property Offenses. – A person is justified in using force upon another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent what is or reasonably appears to be an unlawful taking of his property, or criminal mischief, or to retake his property immediately following its taking; " Source: 1971 I won the case by jury verdict of: Not Guilty! This is NOT as case-law in the volumes of the N.H. REPORTS as it was never appealed to the Supremes, but that anybody can read at The Grafton County Superior Court in North Haverhill, N.H. I pass this info along to others so that of like being able to file a Motion to Dismiss, etc.

You're scaring me to death, Bloseph. Save me, Bette!!!

Dirty you need to a hole after that.

Gee, I seem to remember a letter to the editor recently describing him as a "gentleman farmer" who "takes charge and gets things done" or words to that effect . . .

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