Landmark Abuse Lawsuit: Former Teacher Details Witnessing Bruised Teens at Detention Center

Decades-Long Abuse Allegations in New Hampshire

A civil trial in New Hampshire is shedding light on historical abuse allegations at the state’s youth detention center, now known as the Sununu Youth Services Center. David Meehan, a former resident, is suing the state for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse he says he endured as a teenager in the 1990s.

Teacher Testifies About Witnessing Bruised Students

Brenda Wouters, a retired social studies teacher who spent 35 years at the facility, served as the final witness for Meehan’s case. Wouters testified about witnessing suspicious bruises on several teenage boys during the 1990s, including Meehan.

Details of Alleged Abuse

Wouters described instances where Meehan appeared withdrawn and developed black eyes. On one occasion, she noticed concerning bruising on his torso and recounted confronting him about it. She also detailed stories from other students about forced fights orchestrated by staff, pitting stronger boys against weaker ones.

Limited Reporting and State Response

Wouters acknowledged that she never directly witnessed abuse and did not file any written complaints despite reporting concerns to residential staff, her supervisor, and the state’s child welfare agency (DCYF). However, she claimed these avenues yielded no apparent action.

Judge Rules for Jury to Decide

Judge Andrew Schulman acknowledged the potential limitations argument but ultimately denied the defense’s request for a verdict in their favor. He stated that the jury will determine the validity of Meehan’s claims and the timeline of his experiences. The judge acknowledged the potential difficulty in Meehan recognizing grounds for a lawsuit against the state as a young adult.