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Second Man Pleads to NHPR Vandalism

It’s just the beginning for the prosecution as a Seabrook man pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy to harass New Hampshire Public Radio, becoming the second suspect to change pleas, according to court records.

The case is seemingly connected to reporting NHPR did on sexual assault allegations involving former Granite Recovery Center CEO Eric Spofford. Lead NHPR reporter Lauren Chooljian and NHPR News Director Dan Barrick were among the victims of the vandalism.

Michael Waselchuck, 36, of Seabrook, agreed to plead to federal charges last week for conspiracy to commit stalking through interstate travel and the use of a facility of interstate commerce. His co-conspirator, Tucker Cockerline, 32, of Salem, pleaded guilty to identical charges in December.

That leaves pending cases against two suspects in the conspiracy: Keenan Saniatan, 36, of Nashua, and the alleged organizer, Eric Labarge, 46, of Nashua.

Labarge is the long-time associate of Spofford’s who allegedly initiated the vandalism and harassment plans after NHPR’s stories about Spofford were first published. Spofford has denied any connection to the vandalism, just as he’s denied the sexual assault allegations. 

All four men are being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. According to prosecutors, Labarge solicited Cockerline to vandalize one of the victim’s former homes in Hanover in April 2022. Cockerline allegedly spray-painted the word “C*NT” in large red letters on the front door and allegedly threw a brick through an exterior window of the home.

Later in that same month, Saniatan allegedly agreed to vandalize another victim’s home in Concord and the home of the first victim’s parents in Hampstead. Saniatan allegedly spray-painted the same offensive word in large red letters on the front door and threw a large rock at the exterior of the Concord home. Saniatan allegedly threw a softball-sized rock through a front exterior window of the first victim’s parents’ home and once again spray-painted the profanity in large red letters, this time on a garage door.

In May 2022, Labarge allegedly solicited Cockerline to vandalize the parent’s home in Hampstead again, as well as the first victim’s home in Melrose, Mass. Cockerline, in turn, allegedly recruited Waselchuck. Cockerline allegedly spraypainted the word “C*NT” in large red letters on one of the garage doors of the Hampstead home and left a brick on the ground near the front door. Several hours later, Waselchuck allegedly threw a brick through an exterior window of the Melrose home and painted the phrase “JUST THE BEGINNING” in large red letters on the front of the house.

Spofford is not charged with any alleged role in the vandalism. His adamant denial of Chooljian’s reporting on the sexual assault allegations resulted in a doomed defamation lawsuit. Last month, Rockingham Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire finally dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning Spofford cannot file a new complaint in the matter. 

One of Four NHPR Suspects Pleads Guilty

The Salem man who allegedly took part in the scheme to harass and intimidate New Hampshire Public Radio journalists pleaded guilty in the United States District Court in Boston last week.

Tucker Cockerline, 32, entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to commit stalking through interstate travel and the use of a facility of interstate commerce. He is now scheduled for sentencing in March.

Cockerline is one of four men who allegedly targeted NHPR reporters, including Lauren Chooljian, by vandalizing their homes and the homes of their families in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The cases against his co-defendants, Michael Waselchuck, Keenan Saniatan, and Eric Labarge, are still pending. 

According to the charging documents, the vandals struck after after NHPR published Chooljian’s year-long investigation into allegations that former Granite Recovery Centers CEO Eric Spofford engaged in sexual misconduct including sexual assault. Spofford has denied any part in the vandalism. However, Labarge is a close associate of Spofford’s.

Spofford tried to sue NHPR for defamation over the sexual misconduct reporting, but has continually failed to keep the lawsuit alive. This month, Rockingham Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire ruled there is no evidence anyone at NHPR acted with malice in reporting the story, and that Spofford’s lawsuit is simply not viable. 


No NHPR Malice Found in Spofford Case

There is no evidence that NHPR reporters acted with malice when reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against former Granite Recovery Centers CEO Eric Spofford.

Rockingham Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire ruled Spofford’s latest bid to find evidence to support his defamation lawsuit against the public broadcaster failed. 

St. Hilaire came to his Dec. 13 decision after reviewing thousands of documents provided by NHPR detailing the station’s reporting on the stories. 

“Having now completed this review, the court concludes that the documents produced contain no evidence that any of the NHPR defendants acted with actual malice,” St. Hilaire wrote.

Spofford’s attorney, Michael Strauss, did not respond to a request for comment.

St. Hilaire dismissed Spofford’s lawsuit this year, finding he had not provided any evidence in his 300-plus page complaint to back his defamation claims. However, Spofford was allowed to refile the complaint, presuming he could produce evidence of malice. 

That opened the door for Spofford to seek reporting notes and interview transcripts in a search for evidence against NHPR. Spofford’s search came up empty, according to St. Hilaire. The judge looked at all the documents “in camera,” outside the public court procedures.

Spofford claimed NHPR’s Lauren Chooljian targeted him with false stories that he sexually harassed a former client and sexually assaulted at least two former employees because he was a prominent Republican. According to documents Spofford’s legal team filed in court, Chooljian knowingly relied on sketchy and biased sources to put together the damning reports, demonstrating reckless disregard for the truth, one of the necessary elements for Spofford’s case.

But. St. Hilaire wrote there was no evidence to support Spofford’s claims that Chooljian turned a blind eye to biased sources feeding her lies.

“The court has found no indication that Chooljian or other NHPR Defendants possessed knowledge that their reporting was false, acted with reckless disregard of its falsity, or entertained doubts as to the truth of their publication,” St. Hilaire wrote. 

In fact, according to St. Hilaire, the documents he reviewed showed Chooljian and other NHPR reporters focused on getting the facts.

“In short, the in-camera review documents reflect professional and diligent reporting and are totally devoid of any evidence that the NHPR defendants had reason to doubt the truth of their publication. While Spofford maintains that the accusations against him are baseless and entirely fabricated, the in-camera review documents contain absolutely no evidence of falsity. On this record, Spofford has no viable basis to sue the NHPR defendants or their sources,” St. Hilaire wrote.

St. Hilaire is again giving Spofford 30 days to bring an amended complaint that contains evidence to back his defamation case but wrote that based on the documents he reviewed, “any amendment will likely be futile.” 

Outside the lawsuit, Spofford has been linked to one of the suspects in the vandalism targeting Chooljian and other NHPR reporters. Spofford is not accused of taking part in the vandalism conspiracy.

Eric Labarge, 46, was charged in September for allegedly conspiring to vandalize the homes of Chooljian, NHPR journalist Dan Barrick, and their families. Larbarge allegedly coordinated the vandalism with codefendants Tucker Cockerline, 32, of Salem, Michael Waselchuck, 35, of Seabrook, and Keenan Saniatan, 36, of Nashua.

Labarge, himself the owner of several recovery centers, is described by federal prosecutors as Spofford’s “close personal associate.”

NHPR Must Turn Over Spofford Notes Despite Vandalism Case

Even if Eric Spofford is charged as part of the vandalism conspiracy targeting New Hampshire Public Radio reporter Lauren Chooljian, he still has the right to sue the broadcaster for defamation, according to Rockingham Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire. 

This week’s ruling was a setback for NHPR, which sought to head off Spofford’s attempt to revive the defamation lawsuit. Spofford maintains NHPR and Chooljian were reckless in reporting allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault against him.

The public broadcaster argued Spofford’s connection to Eric Labarge and the alleged criminal conspiracy showed his bad faith in the lawsuit. They wanted the court to end his quest to see Chooljian’s work product.

Spofford’s associate, Labarge, 46, was charged this month for allegedly conspiring to vandalize the homes of Chooljian, NHPR journalist Dan Barrick, and their families. Larbarge allegedly coordinated the vandalism with co-defendants Tucker Cockerline, 32, of Salem; Michael Waselchuck, 35, of Seabrook; and Keenan Saniatan, 36, of Nashua.

Labarge, himself the owner of several recovery centers, is described by prosecutors as Spofford’s “close personal associate.”

St. Hilaire denied NHPR’s request to prevent Spofford from accessing Chooljian’s notes and interview transcripts for her story. For St. Hilaire, it was about the presumption of innocence.

“Even if charges were brought against Spofford directly, the Court is not convinced that would warrant reconsideration of the balance of interest in this case given the presumption of innocence at the core of our criminal justice system,” St. Hilaire wrote.

Spofford is not accused of taking part in the vandalism conspiracy himself. According to St. Hilaire, the available documents from the federal case don’t show he was even aware of the vandalism conspiracy.

St. Hilaire dismissed Spofford’s lawsuit this year, finding he had not provided the evidence in his 300-plus page complaint to back his claims. However, Spofford is being allowed to refile the complaint. For that, Spofford said he needs to see Chooljian’s notes and interview transcripts to find the evidence St. Hilaire found lacking the first time.

With the defamation case still open for now, NHPR has been broadcasting a new series by Chooljian, “The 13th Step.” The program focuses on her story of reporting on Spofford, the vandalism, and the lawsuit. It also looks at cases of sexual predators in recovery settings in other states.

Spofford has denied all wrongdoing alleged in Chooljian’s reporting. His lawsuit claimed Chooljian based her reporting on a biased source who was looking to hurt his reputation, ignored sources who contradicted the abuse narrative, and reported as fact things that never happened. 

According to Spofford’s lawsuit, Chooljian was looking for a #metoo scalp to bolster her resume, and she and the liberal-leaning NHPR targeted him because of his conservative views.

Spofford came to prominence as a recovery success story. He was an addict who got clean and started Granite Recover Centers to help others. His business grew as New Hampshire grappled with its opioid addiction crisis, and he became a leading voice on recovery initiatives. Spofford even counseled Gov. Chris Sununu on dealing with the opioid crisis.

Spofford sold Granite Recovery Centers for an undisclosed sum, thought to be in the millions, to a Texas-based company in 2021.

NHPR: Spofford Defamation Lawsuit About Retaliation

Now that federal prosecutors say former Granite Recovery CEO Eric Spofford is connected to the men who vandalized the homes of New Hampshire Public Radio journalists, the broadcaster wants to shut down his access to reporting notes and recordings.

“NHPR believes that this lawsuit was filed, not because Spofford’s claims have any conceivable merit, but instead to harass and retaliate against a news organization for its journalism,” wrote Sigmund Schutz, attorney for NHPR.

Spofford is trying to revive his lawsuit against NHPR for its reporting on allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted women he encountered at the drug recovery centers. One of his arguments in the original 300-plus page lawsuit is that NHPR unfairly linked him to the vandalism at the journalists’ homes connected to the story.

However, federal prosecutors said last month Spofford has a connection to the three men charged for allegedly throwing bricks at and vandalizing the New Hampshire and Massachusetts homes of NHPR journalists Lauren Chooljian and Dan Barrick.

Tucker Cockerline, 32, of Salem, N.H., Michael Waselchuck, 35, of Seabrook, N.H., Hampshire, and Keenan Saniatan, 36, of Nashua, N.H., are each charged with conspiring to commit stalking through interstate travel. According to prosecutors, the three suspects coordinated with an unnamed fourth man described as a “close personal associate” of Spofford.

“Given that Spofford has been linked to criminal activity designed to punish NHPR personnel for exercising their First Amendment rights, NHPR Defendants submit that the time for giving him the benefit of the doubt has passed,” Schutz wrote.

Spofford’s lawsuit was dismissed this year by Rockingham Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire, who ruled Spofford failed to show any evidence the broadcaster acted with malice in its reporting. St. Hilaire gave Spofford time to refile his lawsuit if he could come up with such evidence and further ordered that he can have access to NHPR’s reporting notes and recordings. 

Schutz wants St. Hilaire to vacate the order for the discovery, cutting off Spofford’s access to the material. Short of that, Schutz wants Spofford to pay all the costs associated with compiling the information. That is at least $50,000, including attorney fees.

Spofford’s attorney, Michael Strauss, argues his client is not charged with any wrongdoing in the vandalism, and the federal case does not state he coordinated the crimes. His only demerit is having a relationship with the unnamed and uncharged subject who allegedly coordinated the vandalism.

“The government, however, has neither charged Eric nor even alleged that he knew about or participated in the conspiracy,” Strauss wrote. “The allegations about Eric instead are limited to his relationship with an uncharged subject who, separately, the government alleges has suspiciously timed phone calls with two of the (criminal) defendants,” Strauss wrote. 

Taking away Spofford’s access to the NHPR reporting materials would set a bad legal precedent in civil lawsuits, Strauss wrote. Civil litigants would be emboldened to pursue sanctions against opposing parties based on third-party allegations, Strauss wrote.

The identity of the unnamed subject and Spofford associate who allegedly coordinated the attacks remains protected from the public. However, NHJournal first reported in March that Spofford associate Eric Labarge, 44, was investigated as a suspect in at least one of the New Hampshire incidents. 

Labarge is himself a recovering addict and the owner of the Starting Point Recovery centers.

Labarge has not been charged by any law enforcement agency in the vandalism cases. He has a criminal history that includes violence against women and attempted murder. He is also currently awaiting trial on charges of assaulting a man in Manchester. That assault took place days after the last vandalism attack in May, and the alleged victim was a man who had been a resident at a Starting Point center, according to court records. 

Previously, Spofford has acknowledged his relationship with Labarge.

Labarge is now scheduled for trial in September in the Hillsborough Superior Court — North in Manchester on the assault charge.

Spofford Demands Reporter’s Notes, Says Lawsuit Isn’t Over

In a sign the lawsuit accusing New Hampshire Public Radio of #metoo inspired defamation isn’t over yet, former Granite Recovery Centers CEO Eric Spofford is demanding access to evidence, including reporter Laura Chooljian’s notes.

Spofford claims NHPR ruined his life when it broadcast stories about his alleged sexual abuse of women connected to his drug-action recovery centers. Spofford says those stories were based on statements from openly biased sources and used phantom evidence that did not exist.

Rockingham Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire sided with the public broadcaster in dismissing Spofford’s lawsuit last week, finding that he failed to establish that anyone at NHPR engaged in malice when reporting about the sexual assault allegations. 

That dismissal, however, gave Spofford 30 days to amend his lawsuit to keep the complaint against NHPR alive in court. On Wednesday, Spofford’s attorney Michael Stauss filed a motion for evidence and a delay in the deadline to refile the lawsuit with an amended complaint that lays out evidence of malice.

“Because the New Hampshire Constitution entitles Eric to his day in court to hold the NHPR Defendants accountable for defaming him, he should be given a fair opportunity to sufficiently allege actual malice,” Strauss wrote.

Spofford wants any recording Chooljian made with the sources she used for the story, any emails she sent to NHPR colleagues about the credibility of those sources, and her reporting notes from the story. The also is also seeking recordings, notes, and communications between Chooljian and Amy Cloutier, formerly Amy Anagnost, who is Spofford’s ex-girlfriend. 

Spofford maintains the stories the sources told were not only false, but Chooljian likely knew there were problems with the sources and reported the accusations anyway. Getting access to the recordings, notes, and communications will allow him to show NHPR broadcast the story with a disregard for the truth, according to the motion.

St. Hilarie ruled Spofford’s complaint needs to show ‘clearer indicia’ of a reckless disregard for the truth to show NHPR acted with malice.

“If this story, as the NHPR Defendants have ardently claimed, were meticulously investigated and reported, then this discovery would only serve to enhance their defense. If, alternatively, the NHPR Defendants knew or recklessly disregarded the falsity of their reporting, then this discovery would fairly enable Eric to allege, with the ‘clearer indicia’ desired by the court, their actual malice,” Strauss wrote.

Spofford has claimed in court records that Cloutier/Anagnost made up the story as part of an effort to hurt him during a contested child custody issue. According to court records, she served as a major source for Chooljian and connected her with other sources as part of her scheme to harm Spofford.

“The NHPR Defendants relied on Amy and the sources she cherry-picked for Chooljian, despite her obvious unreliability (after years of long-term recovery from alcoholism and addiction, she has relapsed, and that relapse occurred at or around when she started as a source for the NHPR Defendants) and notwithstanding her known and unmistakable bias against and ill-will toward Eric as reflected in publicly available records,” Strauss wrote in a motion filed last year.

Spofford claims the liberal-leaning NHPR targeted him because he built a politically-connected profile with Granite Recovery Centers. As the drug abuse recovery centers became the largest recovery facilities in New Hampshire, Spofford even counseled Gov. Chris Sununu on the response to New Hampshire’s opined epidemic.

Last year, Spofford sold Granite Recovery Centers to BayMark Health Services, a Texas-based treatment company. The sale price wasn’t disclosed.


No Arrests in NHPR Vandalism, but Possible Links to Spofford Associate

It has been almost a year since an unknown vandal attacked the homes of New Hampshire Public Radio personalities, incidents that are now part of former Granite Recovery CEO Eric Spofford’s defamation lawsuit filed against the broadcaster. The investigations seem to be stalled.

In April and May of last year, an unknown assailant threw bricks at and spray-painted threats on the current or former homes of NHPR News Director Dan Barrick and reporter Lauren Chooljian. The attacks happened in Hanover, Hampstead, Concord, and Melrose, Mass.

Spofford has denied any role in the vandalism and claimed in court records that NHPR illegally used the vandalism to gain an advantage in his civil defamation case, just as the case was headed for a settlement.

However, NHJournal has uncovered details that seem to link one of Spofford’s friends, Eric Labarge, to the vandalism. Labarge is himself a recovering addict and owner of the Starting Point Recovery Centers.

Labarge has not been charged in the vandalism cases. He has a criminal history that includes violence against women and spent time in state prison.

He is also currently awaiting trial on charges of assaulting a man in Manchester. That assault occurred on May 31, 2022, days after the last vandalism attack in May. According to court records, the alleged victim was a man who had been a resident at a Starting Point center. 

Labarge’s attorney, Charles Keefe, did not return requests for comment.

Spofford confirmed his relationship with Labarge to NHJournal and praised Labarge’s work in recovery. 

“I worked closely with Eric Labarge to help him overcome his addiction in the early days of his sobriety,” Spofford said. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch him grow through the ups and downs of recovery for almost 10 years. He’s done great things for the recovery community, and I believe he will continue to for years to come.”

Hanover Police began investigating vandalism on April 24 when the resident reported someone threw a brick at the home and spray painted the word “C–T” on the building, according to the reports. The home was not occupied by anyone connected with NHPR during the vandalism, but Chooljian had lived in it a few years earlier, according to police.

Hanover Police soon learned the spray-painted vulgarity and thrown bricks matched the vandalism that took place in other communities where NHPR reporters lived. During the investigation, detectives talked to police in Hampstead and learned Labarge was a suspect in that town, according to the report.

The Hanover police report has been retracted, but it appears the victim in the Manchester assault may have also been a suspect in the vandalism, according to the Hanover report. The Hanover report obtained through a Right to Know request obscures the names of the suspects, but it does include the Manchester Police Department’s incident number for the assault, which matched the court records for Labarge’s arrest.

Hanover police were given information from the Hampstead department on the vehicle used in the attack, and it seemed to match the one used in Hanover. However, after being unable to develop further leads in the case, Hanover police closed the investigation last year.

Spofford, who was called a person of interest by police in Massachusetts, claimed in court documents that NHPR took advantage of the vandalism, canceling settlement talks and using its media reach to cast blame on him for the damage.

Spofford reportedly made himself available to investigators as soon as he learned of the vandalism in Melrose, but police have never questioned him. 

Spofford’s attorney, Ben Levine, claimed NHPR’s use of the criminal case to cancel the settlement talks may have been criminal.

“Whether and to what extent NHPR used these acts of vandalism in an opportunistic way to evade accountability for defaming Mr. Spofford should be investigated as it is criminal in nature,” Levine wrote last year to New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella’s office.

Chooljian reported last March that Spofford engaged in sexual misconduct while head of Granite State Recovery Centers. The allegations against Spofford made national news. He has denied any sexual misconduct.

Sigmund Schutz, the attorney representing NHPR, did not respond to a request for comment. NHPR is trying to dismiss Spofford’s defamation lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. A ruling on the motion to dismiss is pending in Rockingham Superior Court. 

Spofford’s Attorney Tells Judge NHPR Engaged in ‘Reckless Disregard’ of Facts

Despite hundreds of pages of evidence already submitted by Granite State Recovery founder Eric Spofford’s legal team, New Hampshire Public Radio says none of it adds up to malice, the key component for a defamation case.

“Zero plus zero still equals zero,” said Sigmund Schutz, NHPR’s attorney during Tuesday’s hearing in Rockingham Superior Court.

Spofford filed the defamation lawsuit against NHPR in October, claiming the public radio station ruined his life and career when it reported a story in which three women accused him of sexual harassment and assault. NHPR is trying to get the case dismissed before it can go to trial, arguing that Spofford aims to silence any critic who might come forward against him.

“This kind of lawsuit has a real chilling effect,” Schutz said. “The objective of this litigation is that just by filing, win or lose, is to silence critics,” Schutz said.

Howard Cooper, representing Spofford, said a trial is needed so a jury can weigh in on the radio station’s reporting, which he characterized as reckless at best.

“This case is about the intentional ignoring of the facts pre, during, and post-publication,” Cooper said. “There is no constitutional value in defamatory speech, and there is no chilling effect by requiring the media not to make up facts.”

Schutz said NHPR reporter Lauren Chooljian thoroughly reported, corroborated, and documented the story, which was published online in March, and the subject of over-the-air broadcast reports and podcasts. In the story, a former Granite State Recovery client and two former employees alleged they were harassed. The employees alleged that they were sexually assaulted.

At no point did NHPR report that Spofford was guilty of any crime when it laid out the women’s story, Schutz said. Schutz said that Spofford was given ample opportunity to comment on the story as it was being reported, and his denials of the accusations were reported.

“(Spofford) can deny the accusations are true, but he can’t deny that the accusations were made,” Schutz said.

But Cooper claimed NHPR’s reporting process is dubious, leaving out key details and using suspect sources to corroborate the story it wanted to tell.

In one instance, NHPR reported Spofford sent pictures of his penis to one of the women using Snap Chat, despite the reporter never seeing the photos for herself. She relied on claims from the alleged victims.

“That is so outrageous and improbable, no responsible news organization or reporter would have reported that,” Cooper said.

Another breach in NHPR’s reporting happened when former Granite State Recovery Human Resources Director Lynsie Miterer called Chooljian after one part of the story aired to correct her reporting on one of the accusations of sexual assault. Cooper said Chooljian reacted with hostility and never used any of the information from Miterer that challenged the reporting.

There is also the matter of the third alleged victim, known in the story as Employee B. NHPR reported Employee B claimed she was sexually assaulted by Spofford, but Chooljian never spoke to that woman. Instead, the reporter spoke to other people who claimed to have corroborating information.

“They should not have reported that,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the totality of the evidence already gathered shows sources who were ignored when they contradicted NHPR’s storyline, and weak corroboration, was used to push a narrative. All of it, he said, adds up to a case that needs to go to trial.

“This story never should have been published, reporters knew or recklessly disregarded facts that were staring them in the face and given to them,” Cooper said.

Judge Dan St. Hilaire will now consider the arguments from both sides. He is expected to make a ruling sometime in the next 30 days. If he finds for Spofford, NHPR would find itself before a jury to defend how it reports the news.

Did NHPR Reporting Withhold Key Details in Spofford Story?

New Hampshire Public Radio listeners were shocked by reporting that Granite Recovery Center CEO Eric Spofford was accused of sexual harassment. They may also be shocked to learn the publicly-subsidized news outlet never reported key facts when NHPR broke the story last year, according to new court filings. 

The story about the sexual harassment allegations aired over two days last March and was also the subject of NHPR web and a podcast.

Spofford is suing New Hampshire Public Radio reporter Lauren Chooljian, alleging she engaged in a biased campaign targeting the politically-connected businessman. He and his lawyers are heading to Rockingham Superior Court on Tuesday to challenge NHPR’s motion to dismiss the case. Part of his argument will be that the original radio broadcast held back facts like Spofford’s vehement denials, that New Hampshire’s attorney general was not investigating Spofford, and that a crucial witness contradicted NHPR’s reporting.

“That truth is that they knew their reporting about (Spofford) was false, or at least recklessly disregarded that falsity, but published it anyway,” Spofford’s attorney Michael Strauss wrote in a motion filed Friday.

According to Strauss, the left-leaning media outlet did not hand over copies of the radio story as it aired in March until Wednesday after weeks of legal wrangling over the discovery process. The station also tried to withhold promotional recordings.

And now, just days ahead of the hearing on NHPR’s motion to dismiss, Spofford has learned the split broadcast resulted in a misleading story presented to the listeners, Strauss wrote.

“NHPR defendants necessarily appreciated that publishing their salacious story in two parts over two days would mean that some listeners would only know part of the story,” Strauss claims.

The first day of the story’s broadcast did not include information about the New Hampshire attorney general having never received a complaint alleging Spofford engaged in sexual harassment. That would have to wait until the second day. Nor did the first day include Spofford’s legal representative issuing a denial of the accusations. That would again have to wait, according to Strauss.

More troubling, listeners were never informed that a Granite State Recovery executive challenged the facts NHPR reported on the first day. Chooljian heard from the executive after the first story aired, Strauss wrote.

“NHPR Defendant Lauren Chooljian spoke to former GRC Director of Human Resources, Lynsie Miterer, who gave information to Chooljian that cast serious doubt on the veracity of her reporting about (Spofford,)” Strauss wrote. The station never included any information from Miterer in the second broadcast, according to Strauss.

NHPR’s attorney, Sigmund Schutz, dismissed Spofford’s claims in a response to Friday’s filing. Schutz wrote there should have been no surprise that the story was broadcast.

“Given the distinctly non-secretive nature of a radio broadcast, and NHPR’s openness about being in the radio broadcasting business, it should have been patently obvious that its story had been broadcast on the radio,” Schutz wrote.

The questions about the two broadcasts come weeks after Spofford claimed in court that evidence Chooljian used in her reporting simply does not exist. Chooljian reported on sexually harassing texts and a Snap Chat photo of a penis one of the victims received from Spofford. However, Spofford claims those texts and photos were never created by him, to begin with.

“Chooljian did not see the picture on which Elizabeth’s claim is based (because it never existed,)” Strauss wrote in a previous filing.

Strauss has also signaled to the court that one of the key sources used by Chooljian was Spofford’s aggrieved ex, Amy Anagnost, who was motivated by a desire to defame Spofford to get the upper hand in a custody battle over their son.

NHPR denies Anagnost was one of the sources used for the reporting.

Spofford is a Republican who has supported Gov. Chris Sununu in the past, and NHPR makes no secret of its left-of-center politics or its animosity toward GOP politicians. During the 2022 election cycle, it arranged a U.S. Senate debate with incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan before Republicans had even held their primary, and they brought in a far-left journalist who formerly worked at “Bitch Media” to help moderate the debate.

Shoddy Reporting and ‘Woke’ Bias: Spofford Sues NHPR

Former Granite Recovery Centers CEO Eric Spofford is suing New Hampshire Public Radio reporter Lauren Chooljian, alleging she has engaged in a biased campaign targeting the politically-connected businessman.

According to his lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Rockingham Superior Court, “Chooljian viewed Eric as her opportunity to ascend the journalism ranks. To Chooljian, a #MeToo-styled report about a white male, Republican donor, and bold and successful businessman, who made money in the substance use disorder treatment business, had all the markings of a career-defining piece.”

Spofford is being represented by high-powered attorney Howard Cooper with the Boston firm Todd & Weld. Jayme Simoes, a communications consultant with NHPR, declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying the public radio station had not yet been served.

“NHPR has not been served with a lawsuit and cannot comment on a suit they haven’t seen,” Simoes said.

Chooljian made waves when she reported in March that Spofford sexually harassed multiple women. The accusations included at least one sexual assault Spofford committed on a former Granite State Recovery Centers employee.

Spofford is a big, and potentially attractive, target for the left-leaning media outlet. Politically connected to Gov. Chris Sununu, Spofford’s drug abuse recovery centers became the largest recovery facilities in New Hampshire. According to Chooljian’s reporting, Spofford even counseled Sununu on the response to New Hampshire’s opined epidemic.

“Sununu championed Spofford, saying he is ‘one of the first guys I’ll pick up the phone to’ for advice about responding to the opioid crisis,” Chooljian wrote.

Spofford sold Granite Recovery Centers to BayMark Health Services, a Texas-based treatment company, last year. The sale price was not disclosed.

Spofford’s lawsuit claims that one of the sources Chooljian relied on, former GSC employee Piers Kaniuka, retracted his statements that linked Spofford to the abuse. That retraction has gone unreported by NHPR, according to the lawsuit.

“Specifically, I am concerned with your use of my statement comparing Mr. Spofford to Harvey Weinstein and my statement that Mr. Spofford should be prosecuted. At the time I made those statements to Ms. Chooljian, I naively assumed that I would have been provided an opportunity to vet any statements I made, and to provide permission for them to be used, prior to their publication as part of the article,” Kaniuka wrote to NHPR’s board in May. “I regret making those statements. I did not have any direct personal knowledge concerning any sexual abuse, misconduct, or other inappropriate behavior by Mr. Spofford with employees, clients, or former clients.”

According to the lawsuit, “Kaniuka was one of only four on-the-record sources identified in Chooljian’s reporting. Of those four, Kaniuka was the only one who had known Eric for nearly two decades. Two of the others had been acquainted with Eric as employees of GRC for less than three months each, and one had never even met Eric.”

Since Kaniuka wrote that letter to NHPR, the retraction has been suppressed by the radio station, according to the lawsuit.

“NHPR instead has decided for its readers and listeners that Kaniuka’s statement is irrelevant to Chooljian’s reporting about Eric. Yet NHPR knows the opposite is true,” the lawsuit states.

The motivation behind the story is money and ambition, according to the lawsuit. NHPR has used its Spofford coverage to seek donations and corporate sponsorships while Chooljian used it to get a job with a national media outlet.

“On information and belief, taking down Eric became a means to Chooljian’s end goal: to join a national news organization,” the lawsuit states. “On information and belief, NHPR was depending on Chooljian’s piece to aid its fundraising efforts this year. If Chooljian could deliver reporting that took down someone NHPR viewed as a prominent figure in the state, that would garner national attention and greater visibility to donors nationwide.”

Spofford’s lawsuit even accuses Chooljian and NHPR of trying to link him to a case of vandalism at her home.

“A reporter’s current and former homes in Melrose, Mass., and Hampstead, N.H., were vandalized early in the morning of Saturday, May 21, police said. In Melrose, a person spray-painted the words “Just the beginning!” in red on the home, threw a brick through a window and was seen running away,” the NHPR report states.

The report quotes Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle who connected the vandalism to Spofford.

“I would certainly think [Spofford] may be interviewed by the authorities. He may have some information that might support a case. It would be too early to say he would be a person of interest,” Lyle said. “After the article came out, all this trouble started for the reporter or the news organization. At some point [investigators] may have a conversation with him.”

Spofford’s lawsuit takes issue with his even being mentioned in the story about the vandalism, saying it was part of an effort to divert the public’s attention away from the Kaniuka retraction.

“The NHPR defendants knowingly weaponized a conspiratorial connection between Eric and the alleged vandalism as a means for the NHPR defendants to deflect from their suppression of the Kaniuka retraction. There was not a scintilla of evidence connecting Eric to the alleged vandalism—the alleged vandal was caught on camera and was very obviously not Eric,” the lawsuit states.