Hudson state representative pleads not guilty in assault case involving teenBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
August 01. 2017 2:16PM
BRENTWOOD — State Rep. Eric Schleien, R-Hudson, has pleaded not guilty to charges he sexually assaulted a teenage girl in Portsmouth last summer.
The girl said they met to discuss her interest in politics.
Schleien, 29, of 26 Pine Road, Apt. A, filed not guilty pleas in Rockingham County Superior Court on Monday and waived his arraignment that was scheduled for Wednesday.
The two-term Republican legislator is charged with one count of sexual assault and two counts of simple assault.
The charges are misdemeanors and each is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if he is convicted.
Schleien, who has remained in his elected position despite the pending charges, represents Hudson and Pelham and serves on the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee.
The case initially was investigated by Portsmouth police and handled in Portsmouth Circuit Court, but was recently transferred to Superior Court, where it will be prosecuted by the Rockingham County Attorney's Office.
According to a police affidavit, the alleged 16-year-old victim told police she first met Schleien at a cafe in Exeter in July 2016 when they began talking about politics. She explained how she was interested in a possible career in politics, the affidavit said.
The two agreed to meet again, but when they did, the teen claims, Schleien allegedly began a sexually explicit conversation that eventually led to the alleged sexual assault in his car in Portsmouth.
Schleien is accused of touching the teenager through her clothing. The alleged victim did not consent and said "she did not want to participate in sexual activities on a first date," the charge said.
The simple assault charges also accuse Schleien of having unprivileged contact with the teen by allegedly sucking on her fingers and pushing her legs down and apart.
Schleien could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
His attorney, Seth J. Hipple, declined to comment Tuesday on the not guilty pleas, but previously issued a statement in which he said Schleien "vehemently denies these allegations."
"It is important to note that these charges are misdemeanors and do not allege that there was any sort of violence or threats. Mr. Schleien has pleaded not guilty, is cooperating with the process, and expects to be fully vindicated."