On the same day that his fellow New Hampshire Democrats were demanding “respect” for alleged victims of sexual assault during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, State Sen. Jeff Woodburn outted his alleged sexual assault victim to the press–by name– and blamed his violent attacks on her.
“His lawyer pro-actively sent copies of unsealed documents to the media,” the alleged victim’s attorney—and former Hillsborough County prosecutor— Patricia LaFrance told NHJournal. “I’ve never seen that in my 16 years as a prosector”
The filing in question is an announcement from Woodburn’s attorney, Donna Brown, that he intends to pursue “the defense of self-defense” in his domestic violence case. “The filing is required,” LaFrance says, “but normally the information about the victim would be under seal. [Woodburn’s attorney] even revealed her place of work, a clear violation of the victim’s bill of rights.”
Woodburn was his party’s leader in the state senate until this summer, when he was charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault and violence. He’s charged with four counts of simple assault, two counts of domestic violence, two counts of criminal mischief and one count of criminal trespassing, allegedly punching and biting his significant other.
In the new filing by his attorney, Woodburn alleges that he is the victim—not his female partner. She “repeatedly tried to block and/or restrain Mr. Woodburn from leaving her, including at one point brandishing a knife,” according to Woodburn’s filing.
Woodburn’s case, and his presence in the Democrats’ senate caucus, are problematic to the pro-woman message of the New Hampshire Democrats in the 2018 midterms. While party officials and prominent Democrats like gubernatorial candidate Molly Kelly have called on Woodburn to resign, Kelly didn’t endorse the woman who challenged him in the Democratic primary or campaign for her during the race.
Now this prominent Democrat is pushing the story to the press that his female partner was the violent aggressor who wanted to “get back” at him for allegedly ending the relationship– the “Fatal Attraction” defense?
Woodburn’s filing contains several references to counseling sessions the alleged victim had attended, and his lawyer demands that records from those sessions must be made available for review by the court. This claim–mental health issues– suggests that the woman is mentally unstable and unbalanced and, according to women’s activists, is viewed as a misogynistic and insulting stereotype. And, LaFrance tells NHJournal, Woodburn’s decision to broadcast the fact that she was receiving counseling may be a HIPAA violation of the victim’s healthcare privacy rights.
Molly Kelly, Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Hassan have all condemned Judge Kavanaugh—who doesn’t face any substantiated allegations. Will they condemn Sen. Woodburn and his “blame the (alleged) victim” legal strategy, too?