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Man awarded $250K in sexual assault at medical center


A Hillsborough County jury has awarded $250,000 to a former Chesterfield teenager who claims he was sexually assaulted while on suicide watch at the Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, his lawyer said.

The award goes to Joshua Martin, who was 15 when attacked at the adolescent mental health ward of the Keene hospital, said his lawyer, Manchester lawyer Peter Hutchins. Martin testified he was raped by a 17-year-old who was put in his room with him that night.

The assailant was never criminally charged, and the civil trial pitted the word of Martin, who is now 21 and lives in North Carolina, against the 169-bed hospital, which is affiliated with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Hutchins said.

Hutchins said his client would have been happy with $50 and just wanted to know someone believed him.

"I have never seen such a brutal closing argument in my life," Hutchins said. "To sit there for seven days and have the Dartmouth-Hitchcock empire call you a liar, and no good and (that you) made up sodomy — that's disgusting," Hutchins said.

In a statement released yesterday, Dartmouth-Hitchcock said it is disappointed with the verdict and will appeal.

Spokesman Rich Adams called Hutchins' attacks unnecessary. "Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Cheshire Medical Center defended the case because it believed, and continues to believe, that the alleged assault could not and did not occur and has every right to defend itself and its experienced employees when baseless allegations are made," Adams wrote in an email.

mhayward@unionleader.com

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