CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Two new lawsuits alleging abuse by New Hampshire youth detention center workers are the first from female accusers.
The lawsuits filed Monday by Corrine Murphy and Natasha Maunsell are the latest in what is expected to be a flood of individual lawsuits after a judge dismissed a class action lawsuit earlier this year.
More than 350 men and women have come forward with allegations involving 150 staffers over six decades at what was then called the Youth Development Center in Manchester. Eleven former staffers face criminal charges, including two named in the new lawsuits.
Victor Malavet is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault against Maunsell at a separate Concord facility where children generally were held while awaiting court disposition of their cases. She said she was transferred there in 2001 from Manchester after she assaulted a staffer with a metal pipe and escaped.
“Every day, there is something you realize is affected because of what happened in there,” Maunsell said in a recent interview. “I know that a lot of the struggles that I have emotionally wouldn’t be there if I had never walked into those facilities.”
In court in April, a prosecutor said Malavet gave the girl special privileges including going to a candy storage room to select treats for other residents. But once inside the closet-like room, she was coerced into sex, said Assistant Attorney General Timothy Sullivan.
Malavet’s current attorney was not available for comment Tuesday. His previous attorney denied the allegations, describing him as a law-abiding family man. A spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment, nor did an attorney for Jeffrey Buskey, who faces 25 charges involving four victims and is named in Murphy’s lawsuit.
Murphy, who also accuses another male staffer of abuse, said workers in the girls’ cottage looked the other way when staffers from other dorms showed up at night. She spent three years at the facility in the late 1990s.
“There was just nobody to tell,” she said. “I mean, these guys are all friends. Who am I going to tell?”
She said has struggled with depression and anxiety as an adult but feels better that Buskey and others are being held accountable.
“I have close friends and it it hurts my soul that these things were happening to people that I cared about and that I still care about,” she said. “It’s a real hard pill to swallow.”
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they were victims of sexual abuse unless they choose to come forward publicly.
Maunsell, who spent 10 years in prison for assaulting the YDC staffer, said she runs a custom nail business and is going back to school to complete a finance degree.
“I think that strength can be derived from even the darkest moments, and I feel like anybody who has experienced what I have, they don’t need to be crippled by it,” she said. “They can certainly still have hope.”
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