For Immediate Release
March 11, 2020
Concord, NH – New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald and Department of Safety Commissioner Robert L. Quinn announce an update on the status of the ongoing investigation into the Youth Development Center (YDC) and the pending cases of State v. Jeffrey Buskey and State v. Stephen Murphy.
On July 25, 2019, Attorney General MacDonald announced that the Attorney General's Office had assumed, from the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office, the prosecution of the cases against Mr. Buskey and Mr. Murphy. The Attorney General's Office assumed the prosecution based on the scope and complexity of those matters and because the indicted crimes involved alleged criminal conduct by state employees at the Youth Development Center (YDC) in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Prior to the Attorney General's involvement, the Hillsborough County Grand Jury had returned 56 indictments against Jeffrey Buskey, age 52, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, charging him with Aggravated Felonious Sexual Assault, between October 26, 1997 and September 30, 1998. In addition, the Hillsborough County Grand Jury returned 26 indictments against Steven Murphy, age 50, of Danvers, Massachusetts, charging him with Aggravated Felonious Sexual Assault, between October 26, 1997 and September 30, 1998. These crimes are alleged to have occurred while Mr. Buskey and Mr. Murphy were employed as youth counselors at YDC. All of the charges against Mr. Buskey and Mr. Murphy involve one survivor who was a minor, in the custody of the YDC, at the time of the offenses.
Attorney General MacDonald also announced that the Attorney General's Office would be launching a comprehensive, multi-faceted investigation of the YDC and the personnel employed at that agency. That investigation was to initially focus on the timeframe between 1990 and 2000. Since that announcement, the investigation into YDC has addressed whether additional juveniles were subjected to physical or sexual violence at the YDC in this timeframe as well as whether there was conduct which constituted endangering the welfare of a child, contrary to RSA 639:3 and violations of RSA ch. 642, the Obstructing Governmental Operations chapter of the criminal code. That investigation began in August of 2019.
Since the assumption of the investigation by this Office, its scope has increased exponentially. In order to address the mounting complexity and growing reach of the ongoing investigation, earlier this year, Attorney General MacDonald asked Department of Safety Commissioner Quinn for a commitment of New Hampshire State Police resources to support the investigation. Thereafter, the Department of Safety selected ten State Police troopers and an intelligence analyst to work the investigation. These State Police personnel, as well as the team of investigators, prosecutors, and victim witness advocates already in place at the Attorney General's Office, now constitute the Joint YDC Task Force. The Joint YDC Task Force is headquartered at the Attorney General's Office with lead investigators New Hampshire State Police Sergeant Justin D. Rowe and Attorney General Investigator James O. Kinney.
This investigation is being led by Senior Assistant Attorney General Lisa Wolford with support from Deputy Attorney General Jane Young, Associate Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin, Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward, and Attorney Timothy Sullivan.
"The extraordinary level of resources now devoted to the YDC matter is without any recent precedent and reflects the seriousness with which the State takes these grave allegations," Attorney General MacDonald said.
In addition to the unprecedented allocation of investigatory resources, the Department of Justice's Office of Victim Witness Assistance has designated a single point of contact, Sunny Mulligan Shea, to assist survivors with their unique needs.
Once indicted, court rules and constitutional protections dictate that a criminal defendant is entitled to certain discovery and trial deadlines. Discovery refers to all the evidence obtained in the course of an investigation. In this case, the broader investigation is ongoing. Deadlines in the prosecutions of Mr. Buskey and Mr. Murphy are now negatively impacting the State's ability to conduct the broader investigation unfettered.
Accordingly, in order to allow the investigation to proceed to completion and to ensure that any and all charges brought in connection with this matter appropriately reflect all the evidence and all the potential survivors and perpetrators, this Office today dismissed the pending indictments against Mr. Buskey and Mr. Murphy.
The Joint YDC Task Force will continue with the ongoing investigation. Given the volume of information, this investigation is expected to continue for a number of months. Once the investigation has been completed, a determination will be made by this Office as to what, if any, criminal charges will be brought in connection with this matter. The dismissal of charges does not preclude charges being brought at a later time based on the evidence and the law.
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 impacted by sexual violence. Crisis center services are also available to anyone who has experienced or witnessed abuse, or who is looking to find ways to support someone who has. Crisis centers can provide individual support, support groups, assistance reporting abuse, help understanding options and the legal system, court and hospital accompaniment, housing assistance, and referrals for local services including mental health and substance abuse services. To speak with an advocate, please call the statewide domestic violence hotline at 1-866-644-3574 or the statewide sexual assault hotline at 1-800-277-5570 or find the crisis center nearest you at https://www.nhcadsv.org/member-programs.html.
In addition, any person with information regarding criminal conduct at the YDC is urged to contact Sergeant Justin Rowe of the New Hampshire State Police at (603) 223-8849 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Investigator James Kinney at the Attorney General's Office at (603) 271-1258 or email: email@example.com.
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301