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Woodburn’s Domestic Abuse Trial Ends With Hung Jury

The state’s second domestic abuse trial against former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey Woodburn ended in a hung jury Thursday.

Jurors were unable to come to a unanimous guilty or not guilty verdict following the one-day trial in Coös Superior Court, forcing Judge Peter Bornstein to declare a mistrial.

Woodburn’s lawyer, Mark Sisti, told NHJournal he suspects jurors could not agree on whether or not his client acted in self-defense when he bit the alleged victim during a 2017 altercation.

“Most of the facts were already stipulated. The real question is whether it was self-defense,” Siti said.

One of the jury’s questions to the court during deliberation sought clarification on what constitutes a criminal assault.

“Is grabbing someone’s phone considering the time, place, and circumstances an act of assault or confinement?” a juror asked.

Bornstein responded that the facts were up to them to determine based on what they heard at trial and that they should look at the incident in total.

The judge wrote back, “You should consider all the facts and circumstances at that time and place based on the evidence presented.”

The vote split among jurors was not known Thursday, and Sisti said he would not be able to communicate with any jurors for 30 days following the trial. What’s also unknown is if the state plans to try for a third trial against Woodburn.

Reached for comment, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella’s spokesman, Michael Garrity, told NHJournal no decision on a potential third trial has been made.

“We have not made any decision on whether to retry this matter. We will make that decision after due consideration,” Garrity said.

Sisti is prepared to keep fighting if there is a third trial, saying Woodburn has no intention of backing down.

“We’re going all the way. This is a case he’s not going to drop,” Sisti said.

Thursday’s mistrial shows the strength of Woodburn’s position, according to Sisti. The state likely cannot prove the case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, he believes.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, which has commented on the case in the past, did not offer a take on Thursday’s mistrial. Instead, it sent NHJournal a statement reminding all survivors of domestic violence that help is available.

“Survivors should not feel alone in New Hampshire. An advocate is available 24/7 and is a phone call away. The statewide hotline is 1-866-644-3574.”

The charges stem from Woodburn’s actions related to three separate incidents, according to court records. In the first instance, Woodburn and the woman arrived in separate vehicles at a Dec. 15, 2017, Christmas party. The woman agreed to drive him home so that Woodburn would be able to drink at the party. During an argument on the drive home, Woodburn had the woman pull over, and during a struggle over his phone, he bit her hand, according to court records.

On Christmas Eve of that same year, Woodburn kicked the door to the woman’s house after she refused to let him inside. Earlier that year, in August 2017, he reportedly kicked her clothes drier, breaking the appliance, according to court records.

The woman went on record telling Bornstein that during one of her struggles with Woodburn, she tried to grab his phone without permission.

Woodburn was convicted in 2021 on two counts of criminal mischief, one count of domestic violence, and one count of simple assault. Last year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned the simple assault and domestic violence convictions, ruling Woodburn was denied a fair trial because he had been prevented from arguing self-defense in front of the first jury.

The criminal mischief convictions and 30-day jail sentences are both still pending another appeal to the state Supreme Court. 

Woodburn was formally charged in August 2018 but still ran for reelection to the state Senate despite calls for his resignation. He won the Democratic primary but lost in the general election.

Lawsuit in Laughton Daycare Case Claims Child Was Victim of Sex Abuse

A New Hampshire family said in a new lawsuit their daughter is one of the victims in the child sex abuse image case brought against former Democratic state Rep. Stacie Laughton and Laughton’s girlfriend, Lindsay Groves.

Both Laughton, 39, and Groves, 38, are currently held without bail on child sex abuse image charges out of state and federal courts. Groves used her position at Creative Minds daycare in Tyngsborough, Mass., to take explicit nude photos of children and text them to Laughton, according to court records.

The family also suspects their daughter was sexually abused by Groves, according to the lawsuit.

Filed in Middlesex Superior Court in Massachusetts, the lawsuit claims the New Hampshire child was the subject of sexually explicit photos Groves took while she was enrolled at Creative Minds. 

Creative Minds is owned by Maura Sheehy Costello and Erica Jussaume of Massachusetts, with daycare center branches in Dracut and Tyngsborough. Neither could be reached for comment.

According to the suit, Sheehy Costello and Jussaume allowed Groves access to the children at the daycare despite the fact that Groves was repeatedly reported for inappropriate behavior. The family is suing the business owned by Sheehy Costello and Jussaume for negligence in hiring Groves and keeping her employed despite the red flags.

“As a result of the Defendant’s neglect, the Plaintiffs have reason to believe that their daughter may have been sexually exploited by Lindsay Groves while the minor was under the care of Creative Minds,” the lawsuit states.

The family is being kept anonymous in the legal filings, with the father and mother referred to as John and Jane Doe, and the child referred to as Jane Doe. They are represented by Lowell attorney Roger Peace. Peace did not respond to a request for comment.

This is the second lawsuit brought against Creative Minds since Groves and Laughton were arrested in June.

A Massachusetts mother filed a lawsuit against Creative Minds last month alleging her young son was sexually molested by Groves at the Tyngsborough center. That lawsuit also alleges Sheehy Costello and Jussaume were told about Groves inappropriately touching children in 2018 and told she was taking explicit photos in 2022, and yet she remained on the job.

According to court records in the criminal case, Groves and Laughton exchanged approximately 10,000 text messages over the past 18 months, including numerous explicit photos of the children Groves was caring for at the facility. During one text message conversation, the pair discussed raping children, and Laughton appeared to admit having raped a child in the past.

“LAUGHTON: I was asking because I know we’ve had some back-and-forth, and I know we initially said we do nothing with kids ever again, and you said you were afraid that if we had kids if they would go back and tell the parents the same with the kids you work with.”

In the same exchange, Laughton and Groves discussed the possibility of raping children at Creative Minds.

“GROVES: I want to do it with the kids at work 

GROVES: than you can put your **** inside them

GROVES: I wasn’t being serious about the kids running back and telling their parents 

GROVES: Plus, I want to do it with kids who use to come here cause they can enjoy it 

LAUGHTON: Well, I know but you were afraid that the kids at work might tell their parents and we said we would do it if we knew we were not gonna get caught and I was just wondering like like basically you have no problem with that…”

Laughton became New Hampshire’s first transgender elected official in 2012 but is now more famous for a career of criminal exploits. Laughton, a Democratic state representative, was forced to resign shortly after the 2012 election when it was learned the erstwhile lawmaker was still on probation for a felony theft conviction. Laughton has also been charged with stalking and making bomb threats.

Laughton was reelected to a Nashua House seat in 2020 and, after winning reelection again in 2022, spent weeks in jail after being charged with stalking and harassing Groves, according to court records.

Though Laughton and Groves remain at Valley Street Jail in Manchester pending trial, Groves was recently deemed safe for release by a federal judge. The Boston Office of the United States Attorney is appealing that decision. Groves is staying locked up until the appeal is heard.

Marianne Williamson at Bookery in Manchester

Marianne Williamson  meet at greet at Bookery in Manchester

August 18th

7:00pm to 8:30pm

844 Elm Street, Manchester, NH

Marianne Williamson in Portsmouth

Marianne Williamson in Portsmouth, NH

Date: July 5

Time: 11:00 am

Location: South Church Unitarian Universalist, 292 State Street, Portsmouth, NH  03801

Marianne Williamson in Merrimack 4th of July Parade

Marianne Williamson in Merrimack 4th of July Parade

Date: July 4

Time: 1:00 pm

Location: Commons Shopping Plaza, 515 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, NH  03054

Marianne Williamson in Wolfeboro 4th of July Parade

Marianne Williamson in Wolfeboro 4th of July Parade

Date: July 4

Time: 10:00 am

Location: Main Street, Wolfeboro, NH

Sound Bath with Marianne Williamson in Manchester

Sound Bath with Marianne Williamson in Manchester, NH

Date: July 3

Time: 3:00 pm

Location: Sacred Moon Healing Center, 2075 South Willow Street, Manchester, NH  03103

Marianne Williamson at Opechee Park Independence Day Parade

Marianne Williamson at Opechee Park Independence Day Parade

Date: July 2

Time: 3:30 pm

Location: Opechee Park, 915 North Main Street, Laconia, NH  03246

Marianne Williamson in Concord

Marianne Williamson in Concord

Date: July 2

Time: 10:00 am

Location: Red River Theatre, 11 S. Main Street, Concord, NH  03301

Former Dem Rep Facing Expulsion From Claremont City Council

Former Democratic state Rep. Andrew O’Hearne may have crossed the line when he reportedly told Claremont Department of Public Works (DPW) employees how to do their job. Now he is facing possible expulsion from the city council. 

According to city communications, O’Hearne was upset with how a DPW crew painted lines on his street. So he intimidated the crew members, telling them what to do and why they better do it.

“(O’Hearne) informed them that a police commissioner was on his way to review the area and that he had a ‘big stick’ and did not mind ‘stirring the pot,'” City Manager Yoshi Manale wrote in an email about the May 11 incident.

O’Hearne, who has been on the Claremont City Council for several years, is scheduled for a June 21 hearing before the council to determine what happened last month when he confronted city employees, Mayor Dale Girard said.

“The worst that could happen is he could be removed from his seat if we feel he interfered with city employees,” Girard said.

Council members in Claremont, as in nearly every other municipality in New Hampshire, are barred from directing city employees in any way. Having spent decades as a Claremont police officer, a policy O’Hearne should have been aware of.

O’Hearne did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the email from Manale to council members first obtained by journalist Jim Sullivan, the DPW crew members said they were being harassed by O’Hearne, who did not like how they were directing traffic. At one point, O’Hearne said he would stay in the road and videotape the crew, according to Manale.

Police were called to the site and determined there was no problem with traffic, Police Chief Brent Wilmot told NH Journal. Manale was finally able to convince O’Hearne to go home. But the manager told council members the matter needs to be addressed.

“The councilor’s actions … were not appropriate and disruptive to the work of our DPW,” Manale wrote.

Manale initially wanted O’Hearne to apologize. The council instead decided to hold a hearing to determine the next course of action, which could include removal.

O’Hearne spent a decade as a state representative before losing his seat last November by fewer than 50 votes, with Republican Walter Stapleton defeating him.

If he is removed, O’Hearne would be the second Claremont city councilor forced off by the council this year. In February, Councilor Jim Contois was removed by a council vote after he allegedly called the police to get a no-trespass order against him lifted.

Contois, an environmental activist, was hit with the order by a local car dealership after the councilor went to the dealer’s property to document wetlands on the lot. Contois maintained he never asked Wilmot to lift the order, he just asked about how the order was enforced. 

After he was removed, Contois filed a lawsuit against the council, demanding he be reinstated. The council settled the lawsuit in April and voted to rescind Contois’ expulsion and restore his council membership.