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Former Manchester police officers are subject of criminal investigation

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 17. 2018 9:37PM

MANCHESTER — Two former Manchester police officers accused of coercing sexual favors from a woman in exchange for getting charges against her dropped are the subject of an “ongoing criminal and civil investigation,” city police said Sunday.

Former undercover Manchester detective Darren Murphy was fired by Police Chief Nick Willard in February, while former detective Aaron Brown was fired in April. For months, Willard and city officials have refused to discuss the reasons for the terminations, referring to them only as misconduct.

But a complaint received by city officials on June 1 from lawyer Olivier Sakellarios claims Brown coerced his client, Amanda Rogers, to have sex with him in a car parked at the Elliot Hospital parking garage in 2009.

The claim letter states Brown forced Rogers and another woman to show him their breasts in order to secure bail and prevent him from notifying their probation officer. Brown then started inundating Rogers with telephone calls, ultimately showing up at her house in uniform and telling her to meet him at Billy’s Sports Bar. There, the letter states, he bought her drinks and “using his authority, demanded that she have sex with him.”

The woman claims she also had an intimate relationship with Murphy, from the middle of October 2017 until April 2018. According to the paperwork, Murphy claimed he could get a Hillsborough County prosecutor specializing in drug prosecutions to drop charges and have Rogers released on personal recognizance bail, “services he offered in order to coerce sexual favors,” the letter reads.

The woman also alleges Murphy forced her to buy drugs for his personal use and disclosed the identities of all the police department’s confidential informants, as well as the location of a department-run “safe house.”

“We are treating these accusations with the utmost seriousness,” said Mayor Joyce Craig in a statement issued Sunday night. “Chief Willard, in whom I have great confidence, acted swiftly by firing the officers and referring the cases for for further investigation, and criminal prosecution if deemed appropriate.”

According to the notice, “ample evidence” exists that police knew about the “ongoing assault,” including a report made to Manchester police by a worker with the state Division of Children, Youth and Families.

The Manchester Police Department has been and will continue to be transparent in each and every incident involving our personnel,” said Lt. Brian O’Keefe, public information officer, in a statement issued Sunday. “The incident involving Mr. Aaron Brown and Mr. Darren Murphy was investigated immediately once our agency was notified of the allegations. Furthermore, we immediately notified all prosecutorial agencies about the allegations, which included the New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General, the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office and Manchester City Solicitor’s Office.”

County Attorney Dennis Hogan declined to address the matter with a reporter last week.

35 cases dropped

After Willard fired Murphy in February, state prosecutors dropped 35 cases he was involved with. In April, Hogan launched a criminal investigation into Murphy’s actions, despite claims by Willard that Murphy’s misconduct did not violate any criminal laws.

“Chief Nick Willard took swift and immediate disciplinary action following an internal investigation, which prompted the termination of Mr. Brown and Mr. Murphy,” O’Keefe said in the statement. “An active and ongoing criminal investigation followed the termination of Mr. Brown and Mr. Murphy. To maintain the integrity of the ongoing criminal and civil investigation, we are unable to make further comments at this time.”

Rogers, 35, has a history of nonviolent offenses such as theft, drug possession and disorderly conduct, according to newspaper archives. She has also been listed as a victim of domestic assault.

She has pleaded not guilty to several pending charges relating to an alleged identity theft in November 2016.

Under state law, anyone looking to sue a city must file a notice of claim first. Deputy City Solicitor Peter Chiesa confirmed to the Union Leader that the city received the claim and has forwarded it to the city claims adjuster, who will investigate the claim and possible damages.

In his claim letter, Sakellarios refers to the former officers’ conduct as “aggravated felonious sexual assault,” the legal term for rape in New Hampshire.

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