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Police: Epsom EMT breached bail order while on duty

George Callingandes

George Callingandes

A part-time medic with the Epsom Fire Department was arrested last week after he was dispatched to a Pembroke home and came into contact with a woman he’s accused of sexually assaulting, the police said.

In April, a judge ordered 43-year-old George Calligandes to have no contact with the 20-year-old woman, who is a member of the Pembroke Fire Department and also responded to the call for service last Friday, said Pembroke police Chief Dwayne Gilman.

Calligandes, who formerly worked for the Pembroke Fire Department, is charged with forcibly fondling the woman when she was a teenager in May 2010. The charge alleges the incident took place in Londonderry. But the woman also told the police that Calligandes had touched her inappropriately at the Pembroke fire station over the course of several months in 2010 when she was a member of the department’s youth program, Gilman said.

Gilman said he investigated the claims in January and February but the Merrimack County attorney’s office decided they didn’t have sufficient evidence to bring charges. Gilman said he then notified the Londonderry Police Department about an incident the woman said happened in that town, leading to the case now pending in Derry’s district court.

The charge says Calligandes, who lives on Sunflower Lane in Londonderry, was in a “position of authority” over the girl and used that authority to persuade her to submit. On April 3, a judge agreed to release Calligandes on $2,000 personal recognizance bail, on the condition that he not go within 100 yards of the woman.

Calligandes, who did not return a request for comment, is charged with breaking that condition last Friday.

The request for service that he and the woman responded to came into Pembroke’s dispatch about 3:30 p.m. that day, according to Gilman, who said the initial call was for an unknown medical concern. Pembroke’s ambulance was busy on another call, so the dispatcher looked for an EMT crew in another town that was available, as is standard procedure, Gilman said.

Calligandes’s two-person team in Epsom agreed to respond, Gilman said. At the same time, the woman responded to the home with the Pembroke Fire Department, he said.

Gilman said Calligandes should have known that the woman may have responded because it’s standard procedure in Pembroke for the fire department to respond to calls when the town’s ambulance isn’t available.

“George is familiar with what the protocol is for the town of Pembroke,” Gilman said. “If there is no ambulance in town to respond, the fire department would respond because they have medical background.”

Gilman said there were options that wouldn’t have put Calligandes in breach of his bail. Gilman said Calligandes’s partner could have gone alone or the team could have said it was unavailable, leaving the dispatcher to seek an ambulance from another nearby community such as Concord, Bow or Hooksett.

“There was other options to not put himself in this is predicament,” Gilman said.

He said Pembroke police officers who responded to the home are familiar with the no-contact order and immediately realized the problem. They made sure Calligandes was not in the same area as the woman but did not immediately remove him from the property.

“We didn’t take any action at that point in time because there was a person that needed help,” Gilman said.

An officer wrote up a warrant later that day and Calligandes turned himself in at the Pembroke police station that night, Gilman said. He was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail and is scheduled for an arraignment Monday.

Since his arrest last week, Calligandes is continuing to work for the Epsom Fire Department, said Selectman Don Harty, who declined to discuss the matter extensively because it relates to personnel. Harty, who said he was unaware that Calligandes had been arrested last week when contacted by a Monitor reporter yesterday, said Calligandes is currently working on a part-time, temporary basis and is filling in for an employee who is on leave.

Yesterday, Harty said Calligandes was on the schedule to work a few upcoming shifts, but he declined to say whether he would continue working after that.

In court documents filed in April, Calligandes said he was employed by the town of Pembroke and had been for five years. But Gilman said Calligandes actually was employed by the nonprofit Tri-Town Ambulance Service in Allenstown, which became a municipal organization serving Allenstown and Pembroke earlier this year. Gilman said Calligandes was placed on paid administrative leave when he began investigating the allegations in January.

Gilman was not sure when Calligandes’s employment with the town ended, and Pembroke Town Administrator David Jodoin did not return a message left late yesterday afternoon.

A trial is not scheduled on the Londonderry sexual assault case. Gilman is listed in court documents as a potential witness for the prosecution. The defense has listed Epsom’s emergency management director and a part-time paramedic at Tri-Town Ambulance as possible witnesses.

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or
tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified an Epsom selectman. The selectman’s name is Don Harty.

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