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Hudson legislator faces sexual, simple assault charges involving teen

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

July 14. 2017 5:03PM

Eric Schleien 

BRENTWOOD — Republican state Rep. Eric Schleien of Hudson is facing sexual assault and simple assault charges stemming from an encounter last year in which a 16-year-old girl claims their conversations about politics quickly turned to the sexual.

Schleien, 29, of 26 Pine Road, Apt. A, is charged with one count of sexual assault and two counts of simple assault — all misdemeanors.

The teen told police that she was interested in a possible career in politics when she first met Schleien at an Exeter cafe last July.

Schleien is a two-term state representative who represents Hudson and Pelham and serves on the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee.

The case was initially investigated by Portsmouth police and will be prosecuted by the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.

Schleien could not be reached for comment Friday, but according to court documents he has denied any unwanted sexual advances.

The sexual assault charge accuses Schleien of touching the teenager through her clothing. The alleged victim did not consent and stated that “she did not want to participate in sexual activities on a first date,” the charge said.

Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway said the legal age for consent in New Hampshire is 16 or older.

The simple assault charges also accuse Schleien of having unprivileged contact with the teen.

An affidavit filed in the Portsmouth Circuit Court detailed the alleged assault.

Portsmouth police Sgt. Rebecca Hester wrote that the teen came to police on July 23, 2016 and reported that she met Schleien two days earlier at an Exeter cafe where they talked about politics. The teen told police that Schleien explained that he was a state representative. She said she was interested in a career in politics and that the two agreed to meet again on July 22, 2016.

On July 22, the teen said, the two met at the Exeter cafe and he drove them to Portsmouth.

Their conversation eventually turned sexual and Schleien later told the teen that he thought she was “into him” and that he was “into her,” the affidavit said.

The teen told police that “this made her very uncomfortable but she wanted to stay on his good side because she had no other way to get back to Exeter.”

The sexually explicit conversation allegedly continued, and at one point the teen claimed Schleien suggested they play a “game” where he would ask a question, offer a confession, give her a compliment, and then they would switch.

“She stated that his questions were all sexual in nature, making her feel like he was ’creating her sexual resume’ and his confessions were what sexual things he wanted to do to her,” the affidavit said.

The teen claims she eventually faked a phone call and told Schleien that she needed to return to Exeter to help a friend.

After getting back into his car, the teen claimed Schleien locked the doors and “grabbed her left hand and began kissing it and sucking on her fingers.” She claims he also began touching her upper left thigh.

The teen told police that she was afraid to say anything because she feared he would “become mad and would do something worse or not take her home.”

Police also reviewed text messages that the teen sent to a friend in which she expressed concern about Schleien and how she was scared.

In a statement to police provided through Seth Hipple, Schleien’s attorney, Schleien confirmed his meeting with the teen, but he denied “any unwanted sexual touching, activity or contact and claims that (the teen) told him, ’I feel very safe around you’ when they were in the care before leaving Portsmouth,” the affidavit said.

Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway would not discuss specific details of the case as it remains under investigation.

“Generally speaking these types of charges we take seriously no matter who the defendant is. There’s an allegation of sexual assault and simple assault, which is unprivileged physical contact with another person. We’re always going to take those charges seriously when it involves a public official or someone who has a level of trust with the community it can be even more troubling to our office and to the state. But again, he has not had a trial yet and he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Conway said.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, released a statement Friday after the charges were announced.

“Anytime one of our members faces charges such as these we take it very seriously. The fact that the accusations against Rep. Schleien involve a 16-year-old girl is very disturbing, to say the least. But we need not rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded and Rep. Schleien has had his day in court. Obviously if the charges are proven true, I would expect the representative from Hudson to resign from the House immediately,” the statement said.

Gov. Chris Sununu released this statement: “Sexual assault will not be tolerated in New Hampshire, and I applaud the authorities for taking aggressive action to fully investigate these disturbing allegations.”

Schleien is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on Aug. 2 at 8:30 a.m. in Rockingham County Superior Court.

Each charge carries the possibility of up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.

jschreiber@newstote.com





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