GOP, Democratic leaders call for Hudson legislator to resign amid sexual assault caseBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
July 05. 2018 8:41PM
HUDSON — Leaders of the state’s Democratic and Republican parties are calling for Hudson state Rep. Eric Schleien to resign amid allegations he sexually assaulted a student attending a summer program at Phillips Exeter Academy in 2016.
The push for his resignation comes after the Republican lawmaker was expected to plead guilty on June 29 to a misdemeanor count of simple assault against the alleged 16-year-old victim, whom he first met at an Exeter cafe while discussing her interest in politics.
Rockingham County Superior Court Judge N. William Delker wasn’t satisfied with the plea deal because it included only suspended jail time.
As part of the deal, Schleien planned to plead guilty to one simple assault charge alleging that he sucked on the teenager’s fingers while she was in his car in Portsmouth in July 2016. Prosecutors would have dropped a second misdemeanor simple assault charge and a misdemeanor sexual assault charge alleging he touched the girl through her clothing.
The case will now head to trial.
The 30-year-old Schleien has remained free on bail and hasn’t resigned despite the charges that were brought early last year. He has chosen not to seek reelection to a third term this year.
“Eric Schleien certainly made the right decision in deciding not to run for reelection. Given the recent developments, he should now resign,” New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Wayne MacDonald said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party is also renewing calls first made last year for Schleien to quit.
Chairman Ray Buckley insisted it was time for him to resign.
“For nearly a year now, Gov. Sununu and the New Hampshire Republican Party have disgraced the state of New Hampshire with their failure to urge sexual assaulter state Rep. Eric Schleien to resign. The New Hampshire Democratic Party immediately called for his resignation last July because we know that sexual assault and harassment have no place in government. Apparently Sununu and the New Hampshire Republican Party don’t feel the same,” Buckley said in a statement issued earlier this week before the New Hampshire Republican Party called for the resignation.
Buckley said that after last week’s “attempted plea deal, Schleien essentially admitted to these disgusting actions. Sununu’s continued silence proves his ‘zero tolerance’ stance was nothing more than a political ploy that does a disservice to any and all sexual assault survivors. Voters will remember Sununu’s failure as a moral leader of our state come November.”
Schleien could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Defense lawyer Phil Utter declined to comment on whether Schleien would resign.
“Until it’s adjudicated and someone is found guilty it’s up to that rep if they want to resign or not,” said Jim Rivers, communications director for the state House of Representatives.