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Second lawsuit alleges abuse at New Hampshire youth center

  • FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2020, file photo is the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, N.H. As states from California to Maine consider drastic changes to youth detention centers, New Hampshire is grappling with its own facility that has been rocked by abuse allegations from years past. The state’s Legislature will vote Thursday on a proposed state budget that would close the sprawling facility — housing fewer than 20 children on a campus built for 144 — by March 2023 and replace it with a new 18-bed center. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) Charles Krupa

  • David Meehan, center, the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit accusing the State of New Hampshire of covering up decades of sexual, physical and emotional abuse at its youth detention center, poses with two other victims who did not want to be identified, at his lawyer's office, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Portsmouth, N.H. Meehan accuses three staffers, one who later worked for the Boston Red Sox, of sexually assaulting him, and others of witnessing and enabling the abuse. The... Charles Krupa

  • Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, poses on the front steps of his home on Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua. Gilpatrick, 38, filed a lawsuit Sept. 13, alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former Youth Development Center in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023. Charles Krupa / AP

  • Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, embraces his son, who just completed his first day of school, outside their home, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua, N.H. Gilpatrick, 38, filed a lawsuit Monday Sept. 13, alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former YDC in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, talks with his wife Kelly, who as stood with him over their 16 years of marriage, in the living room of their home, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua, N.H. Gilpatrick, 38, filed a lawsuit Monday Sept. 13, alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former YDC in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023. (AP Photo/Charles... Charles Krupa

  • ">

    Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, relaxes while watching reruns of the television show "Law & Order", an afternoon ritual, at his home, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua, N.H. Gilpatrick, 38, filed a lawsuit Monday Sept. 13, alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former YDC in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, kisses his wife Kelly, who as stood with him over their 16 years of marriage, prior her picking up their son at school at their home, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua, N.H. Gilpatrick, 38, filed a lawsuit Monday Sept. 13, alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former YDC in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023.... Charles Krupa

  • Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, waits for his children to return from school at their home, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua, N.H. Gilpatrick, 38, filed a lawsuit Monday Sept. 13, alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former YDC in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, points out one of his tattoos, of an angel battling a demon that was inked in prison, at his home, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua, N.H. Gilpatrick, 38, filed a lawsuit Monday Sept. 13, alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former YDC in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • ">

    Mike Gilpatrick, who as a teenager was incarcerated at the Youth Development Center, poses showing this tattoos that were inked with a sharpened guitar string while serving time in prison as an adult, at his home, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Nashua, N.H. "That place turned us into what we were. I can't say what I am now because I'm a better person now. But coming out of that place, I was a monster.", Gilpatrick said during an interview with the Associated Press. Gilpatrick, 38,... Charles Krupa

Associated Press
Published: 9/13/2021 1:27:03 PM

The warnings came through the wall vents at King Cottage: Beatings had begun.

Michael Gilpatrick, who spent three years at New Hampshire’s youth detention center in the late 1990s, said he and other boys sometimes stood on their toilets, yelling into vents to spread word of approaching staff.

“Once they went into the first room, and restrained the first person and beat him, they’d go right down the line and do it to every single one of us,” he said. “You can hear it happen. You can’t necessarily see it, because you’re locked in yourself. And who knows what else they were doing in there, because a lot of us kept that stuff to ourselves.”

Gilpatrick, 38, isn’t keeping much to himself these days. He filed a lawsuit Monday alleging he was physically and sexually abused at the former Youth Development Center in Manchester, which has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019 and is slated to close in 2023.

It’s the second of what could be hundreds of individual lawsuits after a judge dismissed a class action suit in May, leaving only the lead plaintiff’s claims intact. More than 300 men and women have come forward with allegations involving 150 staffers from 1963 to 2018 at what is now called the Sununu Youth Services Center.

Gilpatrick is suing the state, the youth center and five of the 11 men who were arrested in April and charged with either sexually assaulting or acting as accomplices to the assaults of more than a dozen teenagers.

Among them, Bradley Asbury and James Woodlock are accused of restraining Gilpatrick while he was assaulted by Jeffrey Buskey and Stephen Murphy in 1997 or 1998. A state trooper testifying at Asbury’s probable cause hearing said colleagues described the four as a clique or “the muscle” of the cottage, and said they often used physical force to deescalate conflict.

Gilpatrick wouldn’t discuss that episode in an interview with The Associated Press, but he said the teens referred to the four as a “hit squad” because they responded to every incident, even minor arguments between youths, with violence.

“I’ve seen them personally respond to hundreds of incidents, where they could have defused the situation in a lot better way, than bringing the kid down to the ground with a knee on the back of the neck, dropping elbows and kicking them, and dragging them back to the cottage,” he said.

The lawsuit also names the state health and human services commissioner and several former staffers, including one who has died. Woodlock’s attorney declined to comment Monday because he had not yet received the lawsuit. Attorneys for the other defendants did not immediately respond to calls and emails Monday, nor did a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to physical and sexual abuse, Gilpatrick alleges, he was held in solitary confinement for as long as three months at a time.

“And then it would just become a daily occurrence where they would come in to antagonize us ... start throwing our stuff around, take our pictures off the wall, rip them up, whatever,” he said. “Just a way to get under our skin so we could get at them. And it just gives them another reason to keep us in our room even longer.”

Staffers sometimes removed everything from the room, even the mattress, and left him there in his underwear, he said. He didn’t report the abuse, he said, because in some cases, supervisors were the abusers.

“There was nobody you could go to at YDC to talk to. You were literally stuck in your own thoughts, in your own fear every single day,” he said. “That place turned us into what we were. I can’t say what I am now because I’m a better person now. But coming out of that place, I was a monster.”

The lawsuit also alleges that abuse was pervasive and widely known by supervisors, and that abusers threatened physical retaliation if victims reported them. Gilpatrick’s attorney, Rus Rilee, said Monday he represents 375 clients with similar claims.

“Today is only the beginning of hundreds of lawsuits that will be filed over the coming weeks against the state on behalf of the brave survivors of decades of systemic governmental child abuse,” he said.

Gilpatrick left the youth center just before he turned 17 and was in prison within two years. He spent more than a dozen years behind bars and frequently used drugs, but now says he hasn’t used for four years and co-owns a waterproofing business.

He has two children and praises his wife of six years for standing by him. One of the many tattoos covering his arms, legs and torso features angels battling demons.

“That’s the biggest thing I struggle with,” he said. “Trying to keep myself good, but fighting with everything that I’ve dealt with that brought me down all these years.”




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