After failed 2014 state Senate bid and criminal charges dropped, Howard Pearl seeks House seat

  • Howard Pearl in one of his Loudon cornfields. File photo

Monitor staff
Published: 9/8/2016 2:23:17 AM

Loudon farmer and town official Howard Pearl is on the ballot again in 2016, this time as a New Hampshire state representative candidate.

Pearl, a Republican, ran for state Senate in 2014, though he abruptly dropped out of the race in August of that year due to an “unforeseen personal issue.” He was charged with misdemeanor sexual assault.

“I had my day in court and the charges were dismissed,” Pearl said. He’s now running uncontested in the Republican primary for the Merrimack County District 26 seat, since Northfield state representative Jason Smart has not filed for re-election.

So far, Pearl added, the issue has not come up. “I’ve had no voters question me on it at all,” he said.

The documents related to Pearl’s criminal case could not be located by New Hampshire court clerks. That is typical in cases that have been annulled at a defendant’s request.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa Countway Guldbrandsen shared her documentation of the case in response to a right-to-know request from the Monitor. The state Supreme Court recently ruled that New Hampshire courts are exempt from providing documents from an annulled case following a right-to-know request, but prosecuting and arresting agencies are not.

The documents show Pearl was charged with touching a 15-year-old girl.

When the case went to trial in August 2015, however, Judge Kristin Spath granted a motion to dismiss the case after Pearl’s attorney argued that the county attorney’s office didn’t provide the taped interview with the accuser until three days before the trial.

Guldbrandsen’s office argued the defense knew about the recordings in 2014, received a summary of the taped interview and failed to ask for the recording until three days before the trial.

Spath, however, sided with the defense, and dismissed the case on Aug. 28, 2015. Guldbrandsen’s office filed a motion to reconsider the next month, but that motion was denied.

New year, new election

Pearl, 50, said he is running for the House because he feels there’s “a real need in our district for a strong conservative voice.”

Pearl holds a number of other positions locally as the treasurer of both the Merrimack County Republican Committee and the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation and as a member of the Loudon zoning board.

As a legislator, Pearl said he would have a specific interest in land use issues, including local control, as well as adequate education funding and the opioid crisis.

“I’m trying to learn what the towns need,” Pearl said.

When asked why he chose the House instead of Senate this time around, Pearl responded, “We have much more of a need in our House district.”

Pearl would face Boscawen Democrat Lorrie Carey in November’s general election.

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)

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