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State seeks more money for youth center abuse investigation

August 18, 2021 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Department of Justice wants nearly $1 million to continue investigating and prosecuting those accused of physically and sexually abusing children at the state’s youth detention center.

The current two-year budget includes $350,000 for the cost of prosecuting crimes and defending the state against civil lawsuits, but the department estimates it will need an additional $2.7 million through June 30, 2022.

Of that total, more than $950,000 would go to the Criminal Justice Bureau, mostly for the investigation into abuse allegations at the Sununu Youth Services Center, previously known as the Youth Development Center, in Manchester.

“Over the last 26 months, this has evolved into a complex and multi-faceted investigation,” Attorney General John Formella wrote in a recent letter to Gov. Chris Sununu, the Executive Council and lawmakers. “This case involves a very large volume of documents, involving decades of records.”

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Ten men were charged in April with either sexually assaulting or acting as accomplices to the assault of more than a dozen teenagers from 1994 to 2007, while an 11th man faces charges related to a pre-trial facility in Concord. The Manchester facility has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019, and more than 300 men and women have come forward with allegations involving 150 staffers from 1963 to 2018.

The investigation so far has produced nearly 730,000 pages of juvenile resident records, daily logbooks and other materials from the 1990s alone, and prosecutors are in the process of obtaining records from 1980s and from the last 20 years.

The Executive Council is scheduled to vote on the request Wednesday. The request also must be approved by the Legislature’s Fiscal Committee, which meets Friday.