Woman sues Portsmouth PD and school district, alleges mishandling of sex assault allegationBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
November 16. 2017 3:03AM
BRENTWOOD — A Portsmouth woman is suing the city of Portsmouth, current and former members of its police department, its school district, and one of her former teachers over claims they mishandled sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations five years ago.
Monica Clough, 20, makes several claims in the suit filed earlier this month in Rockingham County Superior Court.
In addition to the city and school district, Clough named as defendants former Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald, Rebecca Hester, Detective Timothy Cashman, and former teacher Joseph Arnstein.
According to the suit, Clough’s father, Arthur, reported to police in June 2011 that his daughter was the victim of a statutory rape after alleging that she had sex with a male who was three years older than her when she was 13.
Arthur Clough expressed dissatisfaction after being told that police wouldn’t be filing charges and had determined there was no probable cause because the only evidence was his daughter’s statement, said the suit filed through Benjamin King, Clough’s Concord lawyer.
Clough’s father later reported that his daughter was the victim of another sexual assault in April 2012, this time allegedly by a 15-year-old male. The suit said the assailant texted a video to Monica Clough showing two people in a stairwell with one person kneeling in front of the other. She forwarded the video to another eighth-grade student and asked if it was a joke, the suit said.
Monica Clough told her father about the alleged assault and video, which he then reported to police, the suit said.
Police asked to search her phone as part of the investigation, which Arthur Clough allowed, the suit said, after Cashman “assured Mr. Clough that Miss Clough would not face prosecution relating to her ‘possession’ of the video.”
However, she was later charged with distributon of child sexual abuse images and possession of child sexual abuse images. The suit said Cashman was the reporting and booking officer, MacDonald “directed” that the charges be brought, and Hester prosecuted the case.
Clough sought a dismissal of the case, arguing that the video didn’t meet the legal definition of “sexually explicit conduct.”
The charges were later dismissed.
The suit also refers to another incident in October 2012 in which Clough claims she told her father that she felt “uncomfortable” with a game called “Peso/Beso” in Arnstein’s class in which students were asked a question in Spanish and if they answered correctly they were required to give Arnstein a kiss on the cheek or money.
After hearing about the game, Clough’s father notified the school, but he claimed they didn’t investigate until he made an additional complaint about other sexually explicit conduct in the classroom.
An investigation by school officials found Arnstein was “verbally, sexually harassing in class to his students evidenced by testimony and his admittance.”
The suit said Clough also complained to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which conducted an independent investigation that found the school district “failed to promptly and effectively respond to (Mr. Clough’s) reports of incidents of possible sexual harassment…”
The suit accuses the city, MacDonald, Cashman and Hester of malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It also alleges MacDonald made defamatory comments about Clough.
Among other things, the suit also claims the school district violated sexual harassment rules and that Arnstein “used his position of trust and authority as a teacher” to expose Clough to sexually harassing conduct.
Clough is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.
Stephen Zadravec, Portmouth school superintendent, said the district will be working with the city’s legal department on the matter.
“For the school’s portion, it dates back to an incident involving a former employee a few years ago that was dealt with promptly and pretty thoroughly covered in the local press at the time,” he said.
City Attorney Robert Sullivan said the city has just received the lawsuit.
“It presents complicated factual and legal issues. Factual discovery and legal research needs to be done. It’s far too early to offer meaningful comment,” he said.
MacDonald denied the allegations through his attorney, Brian Cullen.
“We do not believe it is appropriate to comment on them other than to observe that all allegations concerning misconduct by Mr. MacDonald are denied. We will address the claims further in the appropriate legal forum,” Cullen said.