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Concord city councilors, state reps reserve judgment about Dick Patten

Dick Patten

Dick Patten

Concord state representatives and city councilors are reserving judgments about stalking accusations against Rep. Dick Patten until the case goes before a judge.

Patten, a Concord Democratic state representative and city councilor, has been accused of stalking by a 20-year-old Concord man. A judge temporarily granted an order last week that prohibits Patten from contacting or going within 100 yards of the man.

Several of Patten’s colleagues in the state Legislature and Concord City Council said this week that they don’t yet feel comfortable voicing opinions about the situation.

“Well, I’m concerned about the allegations,” said Councilor Mark Coen. “For myself, though, it’s very important to wait until May 10, where a judge is going to hear testimony from both sides.”

Patten, 60, has referred questions about the petition to Mark Sisti, his attorney. Sisti told the Monitor this week that he’s looking forward to defending Patten and exploring the 20-year-old man’s “motivations” at the May 10 court hearing. At that hearing, a judge will determine whether to continue the temporary order.

The man wrote in his petition that Patten befriended him last year during a low point in his life. He said Patten made him feel uncomfortable by trying to kiss him and touch him on the leg, and the physical contact occurred when he asked to borrow money from Patten. He’d now like to stop unwanted phone calls and text messages, according to his petition.

City Councilor Fred Keach called the accusations serious and disturbing. But, he said, it’s too soon to judge the situation.

“Before I pass judgment, I think Councilor Patten should be afforded the opportunity to be heard in court, and that will play out here shortly, I understand,” Keach said.

Rep. Christy Bartlett, a Concord Democrat, said yesterday that she doesn’t know enough to form an opinion.

“I’m going to wait and reserve judgment until there’s more information,” Bartlett said

Councilor Rob Werner also noted it’s too soon to draw conclusions.

“I think it’s very important that the legal process be allowed to run its course, and at that time there may be additional information,” Werner said.

Patten is serving his second term as a state representative, and his third term as a city councilor for Ward 8.

Councilor Amanda Grady Sexton, director of public policy for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, told the Monitor this week that she “will be watching closely as the situation unfolds.” She said the allegations are serious and concerning.

House Speaker Terie Norelli also issued a statement this week, after the state Republican Party called on her to investigate the matter. Norelli, a Portsmouth Democrat, said as the issue goes to court she will “monitor that process and take appropriate action as necessary,” but cannot make a judgment yet.

Rep. June Frazer, a Concord Democrat, said she agrees with Norelli’s statement about the stalking accusation.

“If it’s true, it’s certainly serious,” Frazer said. “But we just don’t know enough yet, I don’t think.”

Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, also a Concord Democrat, said she was surprised to learn that a stalking petition was filed against Patten.

“I’ve known Dick for a long time and have always considered it a pleasure to work with him as a colleague,” she said. “So I was shocked . . . but I feel before I make any judgment . . . the jury is out. There has to be a lot more investigation into this.”

Some city councilors echoed Mayor Jim Bouley’s statement to the Monitor earlier this week that the issue is a civil matter.

“It’s a civil matter and the courts will handle it,” said Councilor Jan McClure.

Councilor Mike DelloIacono also agreed with Bouley.

“I think that as elected officials we are held to higher standards . . . so whether it’s going to affect his capacity to be councilor, I don’t think it will affect his capacity,” he said. “But as far as what his constituents think about it, I’m going to have to let them figure it out in November.”

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

Democrats circling the wagon for another democrat. What a surprise, not. Isn't it amazing the Monitor couldn't find a single Republican to interview. Not trying very hard to put together a balanced article are you?

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