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Law Enforcement Responds After Synagogue Bomb Threats

Days after five New Hampshire synagogues were victims in a nationwide bomb threat stunt, local law enforcement leaders delivered a message to would-be criminals.

“If you threaten people, if you commit crimes, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This isn’t a game, this isn’t a joke,” said United States Attorney Jane Young. “People want to be able to worship their Creator in peace.”

Young, along with New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Timothy DeMann, New Hampshire State Police Colonel Mark Hall, and Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg, spoke Tuesday at the Manchester Police Department about how they are fighting back against rising hate and, particularly, antisemitism in the Granite State.

“There is no greater priority for us than protecting the people of this state,” Formella said.

Threats targeting the New Hampshire synagogues were part of a nationwide effort to call in bomb threats at synagogues and Jewish spaces throughout the weekend. According to DeMann, the threats were not credible. The point seemed to be causing alarm among the Jewish communities.

Jews are not the only targets. There have been threats targeting a broad spectrum of people, particularly people of faith, like New Hampshire’s minority Muslim community. There is also national intelligence pointing to potential threats at upcoming holiday gatherings, especially religious services, DeMann said.

“It’s a heightened threat environment,” DeMann said. 

DeMann and Formella cited the current war in Israel as one factor behind the recent surge in antisemitism. While there are known threats to Arabs and Muslims living in the United States, Formella said antisemitism is the driving force in recent weeks.

Police and FBI agents have been working with synagogues throughout the state to ensure congregants are safe. Hall said State Troopers are working with synagogues to make sure security plans are in place, and to make sure police are visible during worship times. One synagogue told him parents with children won’t come if there isn’t a police officer on duty.

Police are reaching out to Jewish communities and other minority groups to make sure they know they can call for assistance. Aldenberg said people are frightened and need to know they can rely on the police.

“We have to recognize and be aware of the fear and concern the community feels,” Aldenberg said.

Aldeberg interrupted his comments during the press conference in order to respond to a text from a Manchester rabbi.

Young is adding a civil rights prosecutor to the United States Attorney’s Office as part of the response. It is the first time New Hampshire’s federal prosecutor has had a dedicated civil rights attorney. It comes as Formella is adding three staffers to the state’s civil rights unit. 

“We are really putting our money where our mouth is,” Formella said.

The bomb threats come in the wake of an attack on the Merrimack facility of Israeli-owned Elbit Systems USA, in which antisemitic protesters with the group Palestine Action US blocked access to the building, broke windows, and took flares onto the roof. Three people, all from out of state, were arrested and face charges of criminal trespass, riot, and sabotage.

Hate crime reports in New Hampshire have exploded in the last five years, going from 40 to 186 and counting for 2023. Formella wants people in the Live Free or Die state to be free to worship, love, and simply be — without fear of harassment or violence. 

There is also worry that events like the weekend bomb threat hoax may not be a hoax next time. That is part of the reason Formella and the others are trying to get out in front of the trend of hate-inspired crime.

“We’re not going to wait,” Formella said. “We want to be proactive.”

Hate crime victims should not hesitate to contact local police, the FBI, or the state’s Civil Rights Unit, Formella said.

Mom Says Child Abused at Daycare Connected to NHDem Laughton

A mother claims Stacie Laughton’s lover sexually abused her young child and that daycare owners did nothing to stop the abuse in a lawsuit filed in the Middlesex Superior Court in Massachusetts.

Former Democratic state Rep. Laughton, 39, is facing state and federal charges for accepting child sex abuse images from Lindsay Groves, 36, the Hudson woman who worked at the Tyngsborough, Mass. daycare, Creative Minds.

Investigators say Groves used her job at the daycare to gain access to young children for the graphic photos she shared with Laughton. Court records released in the case include a text conversation with a seeming admission from Laughton that the pair had abused children in the past and planned to do it again.

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,” Laughton texted to Groves.

Robert Norton, the lawyer for the mother suing Creative Minds, said investigators are likely looking to add more charges to the case against Laughton and Groves, including potential sex abuse charges. Representatives for the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Boston would not comment on the case other than to say the investigation continues.

“There could be many more charges,” Norton said.

As for the lawsuit, Nortson said the Creative Minds owners failed to act despite being told about Groves taking explicit pictures and, in one case, abusing the children in her care.

“They did nothing about the photos, and the daycare owners were put on notice,” Norton said.

The mother filed the lawsuit as Jane Doe to protect her child’s identity. The attorney for Creative Minds could not be reached. Representatives for the daycare did not respond to a request for comment.

As early as 2018, a parent told Creative Minds staff that Groves was “inappropriately touching children,” the lawsuit states. “Despite being told this information, Creative Minds did nothing to protect the children from Lindsay Groves.” 

Norton said Groves started working at Creative Minds in Tyngsboro in 2017 despite having a criminal history that should have barred her from passing a Massachusetts background check. “She couldn’t pass a CORI check.” 

Groves’ Massachusetts record was not immediately available, but news reports from 2021 indicate she was convicted on a felony theft charge in Nashua.

In 2022, Creative Minds owners were again given disturbing information about Groves, this time that she was taking explicit photos. Again, the daycare owners did nothing, according to the lawsuit. “Creative Minds took no action to remove or prevent Lindsay Groves from having access to the children, and, in fact, continued to allow her to be alone with the children.”

One of the many strange details of the investigation is that the 2022 report that Groves was taking explicit photos of the children at Creative Minds came from Laughton.

Norton said Laughton’s 2022 report was not investigated thoroughly but instead became part of the stalking case that put Laughton in jail for weeks after the 2022 election. At the time, Laughton was barred from contacting Groves.

Tyngsborough Police did not respond to NHJournal’s request for comment. They did confirm to WCVB in Boston the department had been informed about the 2022 allegation but as part of the stalking investigation into Laughton.

“The Tyngsborough Police Department can confirm that it did respond on Aug. 26, 2022, to investigate allegations of a violation of a protective order and stalking based on an order out of Nashua District Court involving parties named in the recent Department of Justice case,” the department said in a statement. “As a result of an investigation, it was determined that no criminal violations involving the stalking/protective order had occurred.”

Groves and Laughton were arrested last month in the child sex abuse image case, a culmination of their highly unusual relationship. The pair have been involved in multiple court cases and no-contact orders in the last few years. One case last year landed Laughton in jail for stalking Groves right after Laughton had won reelection to the legislature. According to the court records in the stalking case, Laughton was publicly calling Groves a pedophile and using social media to amplify that accusation.

As Laughton was receiving the child sex abuse photos from Groves, the disgraced lawmaker was engaging in sexually explicit text conversations with Groves about having sex with children, according to court records.

Laughton started showing other people the photos being sent by Groves last month, and texting the photos to those people, according to the complaint filed in federal court. The people who got the photos were disturbed by the images and reported them to the police, according to the complaint.

Nashua Democrats backed Laughton, the state’s first transgender lawmaker, in three state representative elections. Last year, state party chairman Ray Buckley listed Laughton among the “LGBTQIA+ Democrats who are the backbone of the Granite State.”

On Wednesday, Buckley tweeted his condemnation of his fellow Democrat whose election he repeatedly supported:

“The latest revelation of apparent horrific criminal activity by Stacie Laughton more than underscores
1. She [sic] should be put away for a very long time.
2. Parties should be able to appeal to the BLC or courts to bar egregious individuals from their ticket.”