Six people were arrested Wednesday in connection with the two-year investigation into abuse of residents at the Manchester Youth Development Center (YDC) during the 1990s and 2000s, authorities announced.
The arrests signal investigators appear comfortable to bring charges in a complex case and prosecute them. Last year, officials had to drop charges against two suspects, saying they needed more time to investigate. Those two were re-arrested Wednesday.
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and the arrests do not represent the culmination of their efforts.
“This is not over and we will continue to investigate these horrific allegations,” said Gov. Chris Sununu in a statement. Sununu said that when his administration launched the investigation, it pledged to leave no stone unturned until justice is served.
Deputy Attorney General Jane Young and New Hampshire State Police Col. Nathan Noyes announced the arrests Wednesday. All six worked at the YDC. Charged were:
Stephen Murphy, 51, of Danvers, Mass. He is charged with five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault involving three then-residents between 1997 and 1999. Murphy was one of two people charged in July 2019, but prosecutors dropped the charges eight months later.
Murphy's employment with the state began in June 1993 and ended in October 1999.
Jeffrey Buskey, 54, of Quincy, Mass. Like Murphy, Buskey also was indicted in 2019 and then saw his charges dropped. He faces five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault involving four then-YDC residents between 1996 and 1999.
Buskey's dates of state employment were December 1994 to November 1999.
Lucien Poulette, 65, of Auburn. Poulette faces the most charges: 11 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, 12 of felonious sexual assault and 10 of sexual assault. The allegations involve seven former residents and took place between 1994 and 2005. Poulette had been indicted in 2015, but the case was dropped after a witness did not want to go forward, according to Union Leader archives.
Poulette worked for the state nearly 32 years, from December 1983 to November 2015.
James Woodlock, 56, of Manchester. He is charged with three counts of being an accomplice to aggravated felonious sexual assault. The allegation involves two former YDC residents between 1997 and 1999.
Woodlock's state employment began in March 1988. He was placed on administrative leave in July 2019 when the department learned the charges were initially filed; his employment was terminated Wednesday.
Bradley Asbury, 66, of Dunbarton. He is charged with one count of being an accomplice to aggravated felonious sexual assault. The allegation involves a former YDC resident between 1997 and 1998.
Frank Davis, 79, of Contoocook. He faces one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault and five counts of sexual assault involving four previous YDC residents between 1996 and 1997.
The New Hampshire residents are being jailed without bail and were expected to be arraigned Thursday.
Buskey has waived extradition. Murphy’s extradition is pending.
The arrests are “merely a step forward in this comprehensive and multi-faceted investigation,” read a statement announcing the arrests.
Located in the North End of Manchester, the Youth Development Center was operated by the state Division for Children, Youth and Families. Years ago, the facility was upgraded and rebranded as the Sununu Youth Services Center.
The arrests come about a month after lawyers announced they were moving forward with a civil suit that now involves 230 former residents of YDC and the Sununu Youth Services Center.
At the time, Bedford lawyer Rus Rilee said his clients agreed to pause the suit last May to give space to the criminal investigation, but Rilee complained the case had taken too long and no criminal indictments had been handed down.
In a text to a reporter, Rilee said his clients are thrilled about the arrests.
“We have faith that this is just the beginning of the arrests and indictments of not only all of the perpetrators, but also all of those that allowed it to happen,” Rilee wrote.
The state urges anyone with information regarding criminal conduct at YDC to contact the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Task Force hotline at 271-4000.
Anyone who was physically or sexually assaulted or abused at the YDC is encouraged to contact their local crisis center. Crisis center advocates are available across New Hampshire to provide free and confidential support to anyone affected by sexual violence.