Breaking: Judge grants temporary stalking petition against City Councilor Dick Patten
A 20-year-old Concord man who was friendly with state Rep. Dick Patten, has obtained a temporary court order prohibiting Patten from contacting him or coming by his home. A district court judge granted the temporary petition last week, without hearing from Patten.
The court won’t decide whether to continue the stalking order until a judge hears from both parties; that hearing is set for May 10 in Concord’s district court. Patten’s attorney, Mark Sisti, said he looks forward to defending Patten and exploring the man’s “motivations” at the May 10 hearing.
In the petition, the man, who lives in the same mobile home park as Patten, said Patten, 60, had befriended him in November, during a low point in the man’s life and was initially friendly. He said Patten gradually made him feel uncomfortable by trying to kiss him and touch him on the leg, “fairly close to the crotch.” According to the man’s petition, the physical activity occurred when the man asked to borrow money from Patten.
Patten, a Concord Democrat, is serving his second term in the Legislature and is also a member of the city council. After learning of the stalking petition yesterday, the state Republican Party called on House Speaker Terie Norelli, a Portsmouth Democrat, to investigate the matter.
“The stalking order of protection filed against . . . Patten is extremely troubling and raises very serious questions that he must address immediately,” read a press release from Matthew Slater, executive director of the state GOP. “As a Concord city councilor and a member of the Legislature, Rep. Patten has an obligation to discuss this disturbing issue openly and honestly with his constituents.”
Patten referred calls to Sisti.
Reached yesterday, Sisti said, “We can’t wait to have (the court) hearing knowing what we know now about the accuser.” When asked to elaborate, Sisti said “our understanding is that he can be an unpredictable fellow and we are going to explore his motivations.”
Norelli issued a statement yesterday afternoon.
“Before casting judgment we should make every effort to obtain all the relevant facts,” she said. “This matter will be handled by the justice system. . . . All citizens, including elected officials have the right to due process. We will monitor that process and take appropriate action as necessary, as all representatives are held to a high standard of behavior.”
In his petition, the man wrote that he has been receiving unwanted text messages and phone calls from Patten.
“I no longer feel safe going on walks,” the man wrote in his petition. “I’ve seen him on three occasions drive by and look at me in the window. He just makes me scared and nervous.”
In the petition, however, the man does not say that he ever told Patten to stop calling or texting him. He wrote instead that he had tried to “ignore” Patten in hopes Patten would stop calling and texting him.
In interviews with the Monitor last week, the man said he never explicitly told Patten to stop calling him because he does not like confrontation. He said he hoped Patten “would get the message” if he ignored him. He also acknowledged that he had renewed contact with Patten at least once during the months he was trying to distance himself.
Judge Gerard Boyle of Concord’s district court received the petition Wednesday and signed it without asking the man for additional information. The order forbids Patten from going within 100 yards of the man or his home until at least the May 10 hearing.
Patten and the man live near one another, in the same mobile home park off Manchester Street. They met on Thanksgiving day, when Patten saw the man alone in the park and approached him, according to the petition.
“He was friendly at the time,” the man wrote to the court. “I was in the need of life help.” According to the petition, Patten began paying the man to do odd jobs and gave him references for his job search. “He is a city councilor and a state representative,” the man said, explaining why he sought Patten’s help with his job search.
The man told the Monitor that he had been unemployed and that Patten paid him $70 to pack away his Christmas ornaments. He said Patten also occasionally gave him $20 for assisting him at Walmart or the grocery store. Patten walks with the help of a cane, and the man said he helped Patten shop.
The man said Patten was primarily looking for companionship. And he said he willingly spent time with Patten until Patten began calling the man his boyfriend and trying to kiss him. In his interview with the Monitor the man said he is bisexual but did not have a romantic or sexual interest in Patten.
In his petition, man told the court that he felt increasingly uncomfortable around Patten because Patten continued to contact him. He told the court Patten made him feel like an “object.”
In one instance, the man wrote, Patten tried to kiss him after lending him $20 for a haircut and became angry when the man declined. “He did lend me the money, but like previous times, he tried to kiss me,” the man wrote. “I pulled away and (when) I did, (Patten) call(ed) me, ‘You little sh--’.”
In talking with the Monitor, the man said he first tried to distance himself from Patten in February by ignoring his text messages. He shared copies of those messages from Patten and shared them with the Monitor.
In late February, the man said he ignored eight text messages from Patten over the course of four days. “Please contact me if possible,” read one on Feb. 21. The next day, the man received three more texts from Patten.
“Please call me. Please,” said one at 2:24 p.m. About two hours later, the man received another text from Patten that said, “I just went by your (house). I saw your car. Please call me. I am sorry.” An hour later, the man received a third text from Patten. “I am so sorry for my treatment of you,” it said. “I have regretted it so much. Please (give) me a chance.”
A few days later, the man was pulling onto Airport Road and saw Patten behind him, according to the petition. In an interview, the man said Patten stopped beside him, blocked traffic in the oncoming lane so he could speak to the man.
After that, the two began spending time together again, the man said. For the first few weeks of March, the two spent time together and texted one another. They texted about the man’s car troubles and Patten’s visit to a casino.
On March 15, the man texted Patten asking to borrow some money. “I hate to ask, but I’m thinking of going to Franklin to spend the night,” he wrote. “My (gas) tank is basically empty and there’s tension beyond belief at home.”
The next day, Patten began texting the man asking him where he was. The man said he began ignoring Patten again because he had resumed referring to him as his boyfriend.
On March 21, Patten tried to reach the man via a text message, according to the petition. “Please contact me because I am going to stop by your house and find out where you are,” Patten’s text said.
The day after Patten texted the man to say he was going to stop by his house, Patten sent the man another text. “You are hurting my feelings. Please call me,” it said.
A few days later, the man received another text from Patten. “Please answer me,” it said. “When you needed money, you knew me. Now I am not needed, so to hell with me. Is that fair?”
Last week, the man said Patten spotted in him in downtown Concord and became angry when the man ignored him, according to the petition. “He swore and shouted at me,” the man wrote.
The next day, on April 11, Patten sent the man a text asking him if he had taken some of Patten’s pain medication, according to the petition. “I am missing some (medication),” Patten’s text read, according to the petition. “Is that why you couldn’t face me? That was very insulting.”
In an interview, the man said he had not taken Patten’s pain medication.
The man told the court that he responded to Patten to say that if he Patten contacted him again, he would file a restraining order. Patten responded with a text that said, “What did I do?,” according to the petition.
In his petition, the man told the court, “I just want the constant texts and calls to stop.” (The emphasis is his.)
Concord City Councilor Amanda Grady, who is the director of public policy for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, also expressed concern yesterday. “Speaking as a councilor as well as a victims’ advocate, the crimes of stalking and sexual harassment are serious and these allegations concern me,” she said. “Obviously there is a court process that must play out, but I’ll be watching closely as the situation unfolds.”
(This story has been updated.)