Two ex-Sununu Youth Services Center counselors indicted for sexually assaulting a child

  • John H. Sununu Youth Services Center off of River Road in Manchester. —Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 7/25/2019 1:17:14 PM

Two former youth counselors at the Sununu Youth Services Center are facing dozens of felony charges accusing them of repeatedly sexually assaulting a child who was in the center’s custody at the time.

Jeffrey Buskey, 52, of Dorchester, Mass., and Steven Murphy, 50, of Danvers, Mass., were recently indicted by a Hillsborough County grand jury in the case, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday afternoon.

Buskey faces 56 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault between Oct. 26, 1997, and Sept. 30, 1998. Murphy faces 26 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault during the same time period. Both men previously worked at the center, formerly known as the Youth Development Center (YDC).

While the indictments were presented to a grand jury by the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office, the state Department of Justice will assume prosecution of the cases because of the “scope and complexity” that involves “alleged criminal conduct at a state agency by state employees,” the attorney general’s office said.

“This office is also launching a comprehensive, multi-faceted investigation of the YDC and the personnel employed at that agency,” Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said in a statement. “The investigation will initially focus on a timeframe between 1990 and 2000.”

The investigation will focus on whether other minors were physically and/or sexually abused at the center during the 10 year period, in addition to whether there was further conduct that endangered the welfare of children. State prosecutors said they will also investigate whether the center and its employees obstructed governmental operations under state law.

“The conduct alleged in the indictments is unconscionable, and the victims of this conduct deserve justice,” said New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers. “The department has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of these charges.”

The current leadership and staff at the center “are committed to the safety of our youth and to our continuing efforts to prevent the conduct that occurred some 25 years ago,” Meyers said.

Attorney Rus Rilee, who is representing the child victim, said in a statement Thursday night that the disclosure process has been a long and difficult one for the survivor, who suffered “horrific abuse” at the hands of guards at the center.

“My client’s goal in coming forward is to shine a light on the systemic failures that resulted in the physical and sexual abuse that he and others endured over a period of decades, and to ensure that what happened to him happens to no other child in the care of the State,” Rilee said. “He hopes that by coming forward to law enforcement, other brave survivors will find the courage and strength to break their silence and tell their stories.”

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, which operates the state’s 13 crisis centers, said the 82 indictments handed up against Buskey and Murphy are “a reminder that we must be vigilant in our efforts to ensure that those in positions of authority to do not abuse their power and cause devastating harm to the children entrusted in their care.”

“The children entrusted in the care of the Sununu Youth Services Center are among the most vulnerable populations in the State of New Hampshire, and we are deeply disturbed by these indictments,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, the coalition’s director of public affairs.

Authorities encourage anyone who was physically or sexually assaulted to contact their local crisis center. Crisis center advocates are available 24/7 to provide free and confidential support through the statewide sexual assault hotline at 1-800-277-5570.

The attorney general’s office is also asking anyone with information regarding the criminal cases to contact investigator James Kinney by phone at 271-1258 or by email at james.kinney@doj.nh.gov.




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