MANCHESTER — There will be no criminal charges against two fired city police officers who were accused last year of coercing women into sex, Strafford County Attorney Thomas Velardi announced Wednesday, saying the evidence gathered during his investigation was inconclusive.
Former detectives Darren Murphy and Aaron Brown have been the subject of a criminal probe since last year, after a city woman accused them of forcing her to have sex with them in exchange for getting charges against her dropped.
During an announcement at Manchester police headquarters Wednesday, Velardi said there were two alleged victims but only one — the woman who filed a civil suit against the city last year — decided to participate in the investigation. Should the other woman come forward, the case will be reopened.
“To be perfectly blunt, the weight of the evidence (was) so far away from being able to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt ... we didn’t have the facts,” Velardi said. “If we filed a charge in this case it would have been so patently unfair to either of these women or the two former officers. We would have gotten dismissed out of court.”
Former Manchester police Chief Nick Willard fired Murphy, an undercover detective, last February. Information gleaned during an internal investigation of Murphy led the department to open a similar investigation into Brown, a street-level detective, whom Willard fired in April.
“We take a breach of trust seriously from anyone associated with the Manchester Police Department, so the case involving Mr. Darren Murphy and Mr. Aaron Brown prompted an immediate internal investigation,” Manchester police said in a written statement, adding “The Manchester Police Department has the utmost faith in our criminal justice system and we are confident that the Strafford County Attorney’s office conducted a thorough, fair and impartial investigation.”
Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation shortly after Murphy and Brown were fired — first through the Hillsborough County Attorney’s office, but the case was eventually transferred to Strafford County to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Details of the accusations against the two former officers were not made public for months, however.
In June, the Union Leader reported that top Manchester officials had received notice a woman was planning to sue, alleging that on separate occasions Murphy and Brown used the power of their positions to coerce her into sex.
Through her lawyer, Amanda Rogers claimed that in 2009 Brown coerced her and another woman to show him their breasts in order to secure bail and prevent him from notifying their probation officers of potential violations. He then allegedly began calling her frequently, showing up at her house in uniform, buying her drinks and demanding that she have sex with him.
In his letter to the city, Roger’s lawyer said that she had a relationship with Murphy from October 2017 to April 2018, during which time he told her that he could get a Hillsborough County prosecutor to drop charges against her.
“These were services he offered in order to coerce sexual favors,” Rogers’ attorney, Olivier Sakellarios, wrote in the letter.
Sakellarios did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Velardi said that Brown agreed to be interviewed as part of the investigation, but Murphy declined.
The investigators determined that Murphy and Rogers engaged in a sexual relationship, Velardi said, and that “there was some professional overlap in how they came in contact.”
But there was a “plethora of contradictory information” as to whether Rogers’ relationship with Murphy and Brown was coercive or non-consensual. “At least, we can’t disprove that it was consensual,” Velardi said.