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Plea deal tossed for Hudson lawmaker accused of sucking Phillips Exeter student's fingers, groping

Union Leader Correspondent

August 01. 2018 9:11PM

BRENTWOOD — State Rep. Eric Schleien is now expected to stand trial in November on charges he sexually assaulted a Phillips Exeter Academy summer school student after a tentative plea deal was rejected by the judge.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Nov. 5 in the case against the Republican lawmaker, who had hoped to avoid jail time under the plea agreement presented to Rockingham County Superior Court Judge N. William Delker in June.

Schleien, 30, is charged with one count of sexual assault and two counts of simple assault, all misdemeanors.

The sexual assault charge alleges he touched a 16-year-old girl in a sexual manner through her clothing on July 22, 2016, without her consent while they were in Portsmouth.

The simple assault charges allege Schleien sucked on the fingers of the teenager’s left hand and pushed her legs down and apart.

According to prosecutors, Schleien first met the teenager at an Exeter cafe, where they struck up a conversation after he learned she had an interest in politics.

Under the plea agreement, Schleien would have pled guilty to one misdemeanor assault charge for sucking on the teen’s fingers and prosecutors would have dropped the second simple assault charge and the sexual assault charge.

Delker said he was dissatisfied with the deal because it gave Schleien a chance to avoid incarceration.

Under the agreement, Schleien would have received a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years, allowing him to remain free as long as he behaved.

Delker said he felt the suspended sentence didn’t “fulfill the goals of sentencing or the interests of justice.”

He also expressed concerns about what he described as Schleien’s “misuse” of his authority, which he described as “deeply disturbing.”

Assistant County Attorney Melissa Fales said Wednesday that prosecutors would not have to move ahead with the trial if a resolution can be reached that was acceptable to both sides and the court before the trial commences.

“At this point, there is no negotiated resolution and the state is preparing to go forward with trial,” she said.

A trial was something that the alleged victim hoped to avoid. Fales has said the teenager is trying to move forward and that a trial would force her to revisit the allegations.

Meanwhile, Schleien remains in his elected position despite calls for him to resign by leaders of the New Hampshire Republican Party and New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Schleien, who represents Hudson and Pelham, is not planning to seek reelection.

General News Courts Crime Hudson Exeter Portsmouth

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