‘People should know’: Accuser speaks out as sex abuse probe of Doug Lachance reopens

Foster's Daily Democrat [Dover NH]

April 7, 2021

By Kyle Stucker

A 37-year-old man is accusing City Councilor Doug Lachance of using alcohol, drugs and his power both as mayor and as a prominent member of a local church two decades ago to groom and sexually abuse him when he was a teenager.

Andy Brooks has come forward to Foster’s Daily Democrat with his allegations, as has another man who alleges Lachance groomed him for similar abuse and treated him inappropriately when he was a teenager. Each man says they’ve relayed their allegations against Lachance — who was also a state legislator at the time — to the Rochester Police Department and the Strafford County Attorney’s Office.

While police and county officials say they’re actively investigating sexual assault allegations brought against Lachance, 56, they declined to disclose specific details about the ongoing investigation. However, Capt. Todd Pinkham and County Attorney Tom Velardi confirmed the investigation represents the reopening of a case that began in 2007, but went inactive and never went before a grand jury because the lead complainant wasn’t comfortable participating in a trial at the time. Velardi was the deputy county attorney and the case’s prosecutor in 2007.

Brooks is identified in police reports as that lead complainant, and he identified himself as such to Foster’s. In separate interviews with Foster’s, Brooks and the other man accusing Lachance said they feel now is the time to go public and formally seek charges against a sitting Ward 1 councilor because he is pursuing higher city office.

“It is important he is not afforded the opportunity where he can seem to be a good humble servant of either the church or the government … and have the opportunity to do the same again,” said Brooks, who said he wants to be identified in this article so his children know what happened.

“He’s seeking positions of power, and I’m sure the people who are voting for him or approving him holding these positions … don’t know he was developing relationships with young boys,” said the other man who has come forward with allegations against Lachance. “He did things that were wrong and people don’t know about it, and they should know about it.”

The other man, who is also in his 30s, requested his identity not be revealed. Foster’s and Seacoastonline do not identify people who say they’re victims of abuse unless they asked to be named, which Brooks has done.

No charges had been filed against Lachance and no indictments had been handed down against him before this article was published.

Andy Brooks, 37, seen at his home in Colorado Springs on Friday, April 2, 2021, is accusing a Rochester city councilor of sexually abusing him as a teenager.  Photo Isaiah J. Downing
Andy Brooks, 37, seen at his home in Colorado Springs on Friday, April 2, 2021, is accusing a Rochester city councilor of sexually abusing him as a teenager. Photo Isaiah J. Downing

Lachance denies sexual abuse allegations

Lachance denied the various allegations against him during a March 30 phone interview.

“I have nothing on any of this because I’m not gonna let it take up any of my time because it’s just all bullshit,” said Lachance, who said in the interview he wasn’t aware the investigation was active again. “I have no comment. I’m not going to engage in it, I’m not going to talk about it. Didn’t happen. It’s not true.”

Lachance also denied the allegations back in 2007, when police spoke with him during the investigation.

Lachance served two terms as Rochester’s mayor from 1998 to 2001. The allegations against him relate to events from about 1999 to roughly 2002. During that same timeframe, from 1999 to 2001, Lachance also represented Rochester as a state representative.

He operates Stump City Wicked Good Cider on his farm off Bernard Road in East Rochester, works as a Realtor and is a bartender-cook at a Somersworth restaurant.

Lachance confirmed on March 30 he is seeking to become Rochester’s deputy mayor. In Rochester, deputy mayor is a position City Council appoints through an internal election among city councilors who are interested in the job.

Lachance’s current stint on the City Council began in 2019. He previously served on the council in 2008 after councilors appointed him to fill a vacated seat. He resigned suddenly from that seat in July 2008, months after being appointed, due to what he told Foster’s Daily Democrat at the time was a “sudden and personal situation.”

“It’s a personal and private matter,” Lachance told a Foster’s reporter in a brief phone interview in July 2008. “I expect I will be out of politics for a long time.”

Lachance also served as a state representative from 1987 to 1991.

Lachance ran for mayor in 2007 and 2017, but was unsuccessful.

Doug Lachance, a Rochester city councilor, former mayor and former state legislator, is denying sexual abuse allegations against him.  Courtesy
Doug Lachance, a Rochester city councilor, former mayor and former state legislator, is denying sexual abuse allegations against him. Courtesy

‘I don’t think we should take this lightly’

The allegations against Lachance are coming to light as Rochester works to create an ethics commission so it has an advisory body capable of independently investigating allegations of misconduct made against public officials.

City Councilor Jeremy Hutchinson confirmed, after being told Brooks and the other accuser are going public, that the allegations against Lachance are the primary reason why he initiated the ethics committee process in February.

In a March 24 interview, Hutchinson formally called on Lachance to resign.

“In terms of the allegations, the word ‘serious’ barely scratches the surface,” said Hutchinson. “They’re life-altering for both the accused and the victims, and I don’t think we should take this lightly. I think we should explore this seriously, and I think it should be thoughtfully done and I think it should be respectfully done for both the victims and the accused. The reason why an ethics commission is important is to precisely do just that.”

The allegations against Lachance also come as the 20th anniversary of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal approaches.

According to Brooks and the other man accusing Lachance, Lachance’s alleged actions share similarities to the church abuses Spotlight, the Boston Globe’s investigative team, exposed in January 2002.

Brooks and the other man said the thousands of church cases reported since then, as well as high-profile abuse cases recently publicized in the separate #MeToo movement, have helped them as they continue to process their experiences and trauma.

“I never spoke to anybody else about this back then and I haven’t since,” said the man who asked to remain anonymous. “I guess that’s kind of one of the hopes in coming forward is that it will give other people the — I don’t know, not necessarily the courage, I guess just the opportunity to come forward if they see that other people are.”

To a young and struggling Andy Brooks, Lachance ‘seemed like somebody who cared’

Brooks alleges Lachance started to develop a close relationship with him when he was 15.

Brooks was an altar server at Holy Rosary Parish in Rochester. He said the church also paid him to perform maintenance work there and at its sister parish, St. Leo Church in Gonic.

Lachance was mayor at the time and served as the parishes’ handyman, directly overseeing Brooks’ work. Brooks and the other man levying criminal allegations against Lachance told Foster’s they viewed Lachance as one of the church’s higher-ups because Lachance also taught Sunday school classes, had other direct involvement with children at the church and, allegedly, frequently told them and members of the church he wanted to enter the seminary.

Brooks alleges Lachance “groomed” him for sexual interactions through the way he “incrementally kind of pushed boundary after boundary” around the time Brooks turned 16 in January 1999.

Brooks and his mother, Marlene Brooks, alleged in separate interviews that Lachance did that by using Andy’s difficult teenage years and Lachance’s status as mayor. Andy and Marlene Brooks each allege Lachance exploited his power to create situations in which they were comfortable with Andy frequently sleeping over at Lachance’s home off Portland Street in East Rochester. (The residence is different than the one Lachance now owns and resides in on Bernard Road in East Rochester.)

“He was very interested in my struggles in life,” Andy Brooks said in a March 4 phone interview. “I was a very angsty teenager. I had a lot of trouble in school. I had been bullied since I started middle school, so I had no desire to kind of do anything there. I was bullied in band. I was bullied in Boy Scouts. I obviously didn’t have a great relationship with my folks at the time, so life was just kind of shit, and he seemed like somebody who cared and wanted to help find a path forward as I was contemplating dropping out of high school and all kinds of stuff.”

One such instance was Brooks’ 16th birthday, Brooks alleges.

Brooks said he spent that birthday with Lachance at Lachance’s home, during which he alleges Lachance provided him with Jack Daniels-brand wine coolers and marijuana.

Brooks said Lachance allegedly asked him to sleep in his bed that evening because his home didn’t have any heat. Brooks alleges they went to bed after several hours of drinking and that he fell asleep to Lachance playing with his hair. This alleged interaction is outlined in the report police filed after they interviewed Brooks about Lachance in June 2007, according to records obtained by Foster’s.

Over the course of approximately 150 sleepovers and dozens of other hangouts at Lachance’s home between 1999 and 2002, Brooks alleges Lachance supplied him with alcohol, marijuana and opium; had him sleep in his bed on many occasions; bought him gifts; showed him pornographic materials; began kissing him during greetings; touched and fondled him without his consent; and told Brooks and other people he “loved” Brooks.

“I mean, I knew he was a little off,” said Brooks. “He was always a little off all the time, months and years had gone by. But, to me, he still seemed like — as far as to me — a dude who wanted to help, you know? His house was always open to me. I could always go there if I was having trouble with things.”

Marlene Brooks said she was concerned early on about Doug Lachance's interactions with her son.  Deb Cram /  Seacoast Online and Fosters
Marlene Brooks said she was concerned early on about Doug Lachance’s interactions with her son. Deb Cram / Seacoast Online and Fosters

“In the back of my mind I always figured that something wasn’t right, but I was so desperate for help with a teenager that trusted him and I thought he was helping,” said Marlene Brooks, Andy’s mother.

Andy Brooks said he remembers blacking out while at Lachance’s house “probably close to 20 times.” Those blackouts, he alleges, sometimes happened after he drank one or two glasses of hard cider Lachance made himself. (Lachance currently owns and operates a hard cider company, Stump City. Stump City’s website indicates Lachance first started making cider in 1999 and that he created the company in 2013.)

“There’s a lot of wondering about what lives in those (memory) gaps,” said Andy Brooks.

After one such blackout, Brooks alleges he awoke to Lachance open-mouth kissing him in bed.

“It’s disturbing,” said Brooks. Brooks now lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has difficulty coming back to New Hampshire because of what he says happened 20 years ago. “It seems like I’ve been the brunt of a lot, and I’ve finally taken the time to seek some mental health counselingover the past three years, and that’s provided me the clarity of mind to look back and kind of see the steps rather than wondering, ‘What the (expletive)?’”

Brooks has a tattoo of Arrow, a blue cartoon dog from the 1971 Harry Nilsson film “The Point!” on his arm. He said the tattoo serves as a reminder to trust his instincts. The meaning behind the tattoo has grown as Brooks has processed various traumas in his therapy sessions, Brooks said.

Brooks said Lachance’s alleged abuses stopped in 2002 because Brooks joined the Army and left the area. Brooks said he didn’t disclose the alleged abuses to his mother and other members of his family until after he left for the Army.

‘What happened to me wasn’t right’

The other man who has accused Lachance of misconduct was also a teenage member of Holy Rosary Parish around the same time as Brooks, though he was younger than Brooks.

The other man said he had many interactions, hangouts and sleepovers at Lachance’s house while Brooks both was and wasn’t present. He alleges he witnessed Lachance inappropriately interact with Brooks and alleges Lachance frequently provided them with alcohol.

The man alleges he himself was subjected to predatory behavior from Lachance and that he felt Lachance was “grooming” him to have the same type of physical relationship as Lachance had with Brooks.

The man said he can’t recall any specific instances in which Lachance touched him sexually, though he said he can remember one instance in which Lachance had him sleep in his bed.

“That’s what some of the confusion was for me over the last 20 years,” the man said in a Feb. 28 interview. “It’s more so like I experienced this whole weird situation and it seemed like what happened with Andy was very wrong. What happened with me wasn’t right, but it’s been hard to figure out exactly what it was.”

The man and Brooks each said they hadn’t spoken to each other at the time of their interviews for this story.

In their interviews, each individual described helping Lachance clean and convert the loft above Lachance’s barn into a hangout area for them and the other teens and young adults who would also spend time and consume alcohol at Lachance’s house.

“After we cleared it out and set up that upstairs, he had made a sign that now seems so tacky and weird,” said the man. “(It was) a sign that said ‘Neverland’ and he hung that next to the steps going up. So at the time, we were calling it that.”

Neverland is a reference to Peter Pan, which Lachance also allegedly referenced when he frequently referred to Brooks, the unnamed accuser and other houseguests as his “Lost Boys,” according to the two individuals who have come forward.

“I remember one of the nights hanging out up there, I remember he said, like, ‘You know I love you and I love all of you guys, but I really love Andy,’” said the man, later clarifying Brooks wasn’t present when Lachance allegedly said something to that effect inside Neverland. “That they had something more than just a friendship.”

It wasn’t uncommon for other teens and young men to be at Lachance’s home, according to Brooks and the unnamed accuser. They said Lachance referred to his home as the Bartholomew House, allegedly rented out rooms to young men “struggling” with different things, and attempted to use religion and his mentorship to help them.

One of the individuals they identified as a resident of the Bartholomew House didn’t return a request for comment before this article was published.

The unnamed accuser said Lachance allegedly started treating him differently — more coldly — when Brooks left to join the military in 2002. He said his contact with Lachance ended shortly after that.

Lachance insists ‘nothing ever happened’

Lachance declined March 30 to respond to specific questions about the allegations against him.

When asked why, the city councilor said it’s “because they’re moldy-old allegations that were fully investigated by police and no charges were ever brought because nothing ever happened.”

Police and Velardi maintain their investigation was never closed in 2007. They also maintain they’ve never made any determinations Lachance shouldn’t be charged or prosecuted.

When asked to respond to those facts, Lachance said, “I have no comment on any of this.”

“People can say what they want about me, but I’m not gonna spend my time trying to disprove a negative, if that’s the right vernacular,” Lachance said during his March 30 phone interview.

The 2007 investigation into Lachance

Police reports from the 2007 investigation into the allegations against Lachance indicate the investigation began after Lachance attempted to become a confirmation sponsor at Holy Rosary Parish.

The reports note the church contacted the state’s diocese, who then contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, who then referred the case to Rochester police for investigation on March 29, 2007.

According to a report filed by Rochester Police Detective Steven Bourque, Marlene Brooks contacted Holy Rosary’s confirmation coordinator after “one of the parishioners learned that (Lachance) was going to be a confirmation sponsor.”

Bourque’s report states Marlene Brooks told the coordinator Lachance allegedly provided alcohol to her son Andy, kissed him on the lips and professed his love to Brooks. Marlene Brooks told the coordinator she had limited information about what happened and that she believed Lachance “may have had inappropriate contact with kids in two other families,” according to the report.

During her Feb. 28 interview, Marlene Brooks confirmed that’s what she reported in early 2007. Marlene Brooks said during that interview that the boy Lachance was attempting to sponsor in 2007 was struggling at the time due to the recent death of his mother. That detail isn’t included in the police report’s description of the boy.

After speaking with Marlene Brooks in 2007, Bourque notes in his report he called the number for Andy Brooks and made contact with Andy’s wife. Bourque notes in his report Andy’s wife corroborated some of the details of the allegations against Lachance in addition to alleging Lachance has spoken to her in ways that made her uncomfortable.

Andy Brooks said he and that woman are no longer married.

Andy Brooks was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina at this stage of the 2007 investigation. So, Bourque arranged for criminal investigation command personnel (CID) on the base to conduct the official interview after Brooks told Bourque he was willing to come forward.

The police reports include a loose summary of the interview Brooks gave to base CID. The summary includes different details about sexual encounters, non-sexual physical encounters, interactions and conversations Brooks alleges occurred between Lachance and him.

“(Brooks) is crying at this point and very upset,” the summary states in one section of the interview in which Brooks described a night in which Lachance allegedly initiated sexual contact with him when Brooks was drunk.

Brooks, as outlined in the report, alleged he declined Lachance’s sexual advances multiple times that night before Lachance allegedly “placed his hand on his penis and when Brooks went to brush it away, he held on for a second (estimated 5 seconds) then he was able to push his hand away.”

Then, Brooks alleged in his CID interview, Lachance “kept doing ‘grab arounds’ testing to see if he’d changed his mind.”

“He stated that Lachance told him that he was in love with him,” reads the report. The report doesn’t indicate any additional contact occurred after Brooks allegedly told Lachance to go to sleep.

The report indicates Rochester police received the CID interview on June 13, 2007. That’s the same day Lachance denied the allegations when police visited him at his home, according to the reports.

One report states Lachance told detectives that day he “denies he ever touched Brooks in the ways that have been alleged.”

One day later, Lachance told police through his attorney that he wouldn’t come to the police station to provide an official statement.

Before police received the CID interview and spoke with Lachance on June 13, 2007, Rochester officers interviewed people from the two other families Marlene Brooks reported to police back in March of that year. Individuals from those families, Bourque wrote in a report, told police boys consumed alcohol while at Lachance’s house, older teens also stayed at Lachance’s house, and that Lachance and Brooks had a close relationship.

Father Paul Montminy was the final interview police conducted before forwarding investigative materials to the county attorney’s office for review and possible prosecution, according to the reports.

Montminy was the priest at Holy Rosary during the time Lachance allegedly committed the abuses, but he left for another church before Lachance’s confirmation sponsor attempt in 2007, according to the reports. Andy Brooks said Montminy also led his Boy Scout troop, Troop 186. The troop’s website and Facebook page indicate Troop 186 is still chartered by Holy Rosary.

Bourque wrote Montminy said Brooks and two other “boys” involved in the scope of the investigation “were known to go to Lachance’s house.” Montminy, Bourque wrote, said he “recalled hearing Lachance was asked to leave” one of the homes “after there was a problem with some discussion Lachance had with their son.”

Bourque wrote Montminy also said he had heard “at one point Brooks was rumored to consider moving in with Lachance.”

Montminy characterized Lachance as having “very odd behavior” while describing Lachance’s handyman work with the church, Bourque noted.

“(Montminy said) Lachance would show up one week for three hours, then disappear for a week or so,” said Bourque. “He stated he eventually confronted him about this behavior and told him that he was going to hire people that would show up to complete the work they said they would.”

The report doesn’t include a date for when police forwarded the investigative materials to the county attorney’s office for review.

The next document in the case materials is a Sept. 17, 2007, letter that Velardi, then deputy county attorney, wrote to Rochester police.

“We have decided that the conduct should be charged,” Velardi wrote in that letter.

Velardi wrote the allegations brought against Lachance at that time constituted a Class A misdemeanor, not felonious sexual assault. He wrote Brooks was “15 or 16 when (Lachance allegedly) accomplished sexual contact through the element of surprise or by superior physical strength.”

In his next letter to police, dated Nov. 16, 2007, Velardi indicated he was “placing this case on inactive status” because Brooks and his then-wife weren’t responding to his office’s attempts to contact them “to discuss options for proceeding.”

“I remain willing to pursue criminal charges based upon future cooperation from the victim,” Velardi wrote in the Nov. 16, 2007, letter.

Church acknowledges contact by police

Foster’s wasn’t able to confirm actions Holy Rosary Parish may have taken after church officials were notified of the allegations against Lachance.

The church’s actions aren’t specifically outlined in the 2007 police reports, beyond Bourque writing: “The parish apparently told LaChance that he could not be a confirmation sponsor without providing information about these allegations.”

In her interview, Marlene Brooks said she believes the church blackballed Lachance not only in 2007, but also a few years earlier when she first discussed the allegations against Lachance with members of the church.

The Holy Rosary confirmation coordinator named in the police report, no longer an employee of Holy Rosary, declined comment.

A Holy Rosary employee who answered the church’s main line March 24 also declined comment.

Meredith P. Cook, the chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester, confirmed the diocese spoke with law enforcement about the allegations against Lachance in 2007. However, Cook and the diocese didn’t answer questions about whether the diocese took any other actions or if the diocese has any records pertaining to Lachance.

“The Diocese of Manchester received a report in 2007 concerning Doug Lachance,” Cook wrote in an emailed statement April 1. “Upon receiving this information, the Diocese made a prompt report to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, and the Diocese was advised the matter was referred for investigation. Out of respect for all those involved, we cannot comment further. Any questions should be referred to the Rochester Police Department.”

Montminy is now serving in a church in Nashua. After Foster’s left a message on his line at that church to request comment, Montminy left a voicemail in return. In that voicemail, Montminy didn’t directly answer questions about whether Lachance’s employment and participation in the parish were either restricted or terminated over the allegations.

“I knew Doug,” Montminy said in the voicemail he left March 26. “Doug — (I’m) trying to remember — I’m not sure when he joined the parish. He had been a parishioner at one time, but I think had been out of town. But he did come back. He did some odd jobs in the parish but wasn’t really involved in any type of ministries that I can think of — maybe he read. Then he became mayor of the city, but, you know, other than that I can’t really give you too much more information. All right, well, have a great day and Happy Easter. God bless. Buh-bye.”

Montminy couldn’t be reached for additional comment.

Dave Dubois, the recently retired sheriff of Strafford County, was Rochester’s police chief at the time of the 2007 investigation.

Dubois declined to discuss facts of the case and what police found involving the church, stating he preferred to have no comment to “protect the integrity” of the investigation.

“Because the investigation was reopened, that’s what makes it one of those things it’s tough to be able to release any more info,” Pinkham said, echoing Dubois’ comments when asked about the facts of the case and what police found the church may have done in light of allegations against Lachance.

Coming forward now ‘is the right thing to do,’ Lachance’s accusers say

In late 2020 and earlier this year, Lachance publicly expressed interest in running for mayor in this November’s municipal election.

Around that time, Mayor Caroline McCarley told councilors she’d be stepping down mid-term in June because she’s moving out of state. McCarley had previously made it known during her 2019 campaign that the current term — her third — would be her last.

In addition to running for mayor, Lachance expressed interest in potentially running for the internal City Council-appointed deputy mayor position, according to posts Lachance made on Facebook and statements other councilors say Lachance made during conversations they had with him. The deputy position will be up for grabs when Deptuy Mayor Elaine Lauterborn becomes mayor after McCarley resigns.

Lachance then texted Foster’s on Feb. 18 and posted on Facebook to publicly back off on his interest in the mayor’s seat amid what he described as “a lot of chatter” about the upcoming race.

“After very careful consideration and discussion with my family and friends, I have decided that due to the uncertainty with my health in the ever increasing workload I have in my professional career that I will not be seeking the office of Mayor in next year’s municipal election,” Lachance wrote in the Feb. 18 text and Facebook post, which were identical. Lachance battled cancer for a few years starting in 2016, as well as COVID-19 last year.

Lachance didn’t address his interest in becoming deputy mayor in either the text or post, but confirmed March 30 that he’s still planning to run for it.

Brooks and the other man accusing Lachance each said Lachance’s latest interest in the mayor and deputy seats helped them realize they could no longer stay silent.

Both said they will participate in a trial, should one happen.

Marlene Brooks, Andy’s mom, also said Lachance’s posts and mayoral exploration are why she shared allegations about Lachance with Hutchinson, as well as why she asked a Foster’s reporter in February to look into Lachance. Andy Brooks and the other man accusing Lachance contacted the same reporter a short time later.

In Andy Brooks’ case, a key difference between not wanting to testify in 2007 and now is that his career in the military is over. Brooks said he wasn’t ready in 2007, fearful publicly disclosing he was abused by a man would adversely impact his military career and relationships with other members of the military.

“The more I thought about it, I have a son back in New Hampshire,” Andy Brooks said while describing why he’s coming forward now. “He’s going to be 16 this year, and he’s at the age where I met Doug, and, yeah, it just kind of put it into context there. It made me realize, ‘Yeah, it is kind of important that I relive it all again,’ if need be in a way, to hopefully make sure that my son doesn’t go through the same stuff I went through, you know?”

Andy Brooks and the other man accusing Lachance say what happened roughly 20 years ago has weighed on them in many ways over the years. They said it has affected how they’ve approached other relationships and facets of everyday life.

Andy Brooks has sought therapy, while the other man hadn’t as of his most recent interview with Foster’s. They also said that processing the events with their loved ones has helped, though each man said they aren’t done with the healing process.

“I’m already pretty dead inside from my different traumas, to include the trauma from Doug to really horrible relationships and military service, so I just disassociate really easily,” Andy Brooks said in a March 30 phone interview.

Both men said they expect some community members to doubt them, or ascribe ulterior motives to their explanations. Both said they’re readying themselves for that and are ready to deal with the trauma that resurfaces while reliving the events because they said they believe coming forward is “the right thing to do.”

“What would I gain from this, having been gone for 20 years, living a completely disconnected life in Colorado?” Andy Brooks said March 30 when asked to respond to Lachance’s claims that he’s lying. “What could I gain from making all these allegations if they weren’t true, you know? What’s the point? That’s just kind of silliness.”

Marlene Brooks said she hasn’t been particularly quiet over the years, going so far as to confront Lachance when she’s seen him in public at things like the 2017 Rochester candidates forum. The mother, a survivor of sexual abuse herself who regrets allowing Andy to spend frequent time at Lachance’s home, just hasn’t fully gone public until now.

“I let people know and let him know I’m not walking away,” Marlene Brooks said during a Feb. 28 interview at her home in East Rochester. “I told him right from the very beginning when I found out, ‘If you ever run for office, I’m going to be right there.’”

Delayed disclosure not uncommon

It’s more common than not for victims and survivors of abuse to wait years or decades to report allegations, particularly cases involving the sexual abuse of a child, according to Velardi and Amanda Grady Sexton, the director of public affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Known as delayed disclosure, victims and survivors often don’t report these crimes until years later when they’re adults and working to understand how the abuse has impacted them, Grady Sexton and Velardi said.

They each said the reasons why children and adults delay disclosure are many, and that each case and the trauma involved are unique.

“I think it’s important to realize that adults who come forward (saying they) were abused as kids have nothing to gain, and so many are doing so just to desperately stop predators from inflicting the same amount of lifelong pain on another child that they did to them,” said Grady Sexton.

County attorney and police: The case is active

In multiple interviews in February and March, Velardi said the case is active and that he remains willing to serve as the case’s prosecutor. Pinkham also confirmed RPD is still actively investigating the case and is “absolutely committed” to filing charges should detectives obtain enough information to do so.

“That’s why this case has been reopened,” said Pinkham. “That’s why we’re going through the steps that we are to continue to investigate this case.”

While speaking about the investigation, Pinkham described the allegations against Lachance as “serious” and also said Lachance is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Again, Lachance denies each of the allegations against him. While speaking to Foster’s on March 30, Lachance said “nothing ever happened.”

Pinkham said it’s “tough to say” what stage of the investigation detectives are in.

He said current steps include setting up interviews with multiple individuals who live out of state and gathering additional information about what has been alleged. Pinkham said he anticipates additional follow-up work will be needed after the out-of-state interviews and other pieces of the investigation are completed. Pinkham declined to say how much of the information gathered thus far represents new information, and how much constitutes information obtained during the 2007 portion of the investigation.

“Sometimes these things are a lengthy process to bring offenders to justice or bring about just a resolution to the case itself,” said Pinkham.

Pinkham and Velardi said they couldn’t disclose the total number of people who have come forward with allegations against Lachance because the investigation is ongoing. They used language like “individuals” and “people,” respectively, each of which suggests more than one person.

“As far as any victims, whether it be one, two — it doesn’t matter the number of them,” said Pinkham. “We want to be able to present the strongest case we can, and we need the cooperation from however many there may be, whether there be one or more, to move forward with that.”

Pinkham and Velardi each said their respective offices will continue to speak with any individuals who come forward with information about the case.

Velardi also said he will direct anyone who comes forward to “appropriate support services to make sure these individuals feel safe and comfortable having made the disclosure or the redisclosure,” as he’s done with the people who have already come forward.

“I’m also willing to do what I do in all cases, which is afford the accused the opportunity to narrate his or her side of things,” said Velardi. “That’s the only way to do a fair investigation.”

Police ask anyone with information pertaining to this case to contact Detective Robert Frechette at (603) 330-7127.

Tips can also be reported anonymously in any case by calling the Rochester CrimeLine at 335-6500 or by texting tips to CRIMES (274637) with TEXT4CASH in the body of the text. Up to $1,000 is awarded for tips that lead to an arrest. Individuals who text tips should start the body of their messages with the phrase TEXT4CASH.

If you need help

Help is available in New Hampshire’s Seacoast region if you or someone you know needs assistance.

Haven has trained confidential advocates available. Haven’s 24-hour hotline is (603) 994-SAFE (7233). Haven’s confidential online chat service is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by clicking the “Chat Now” button on the website at havennh.org. Haven is southeastern New Hampshire’s violence prevention and support services crisis center for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. It has crisis centers at 20 International Drive, Suite 300, in Portsmouth and 150 Wakefield St. in Rochester.

New Hampshire’s 24-hour statewide sexual abuse and domestic violence hotline is available at 1-866-644-3574.

Information about additional resources and policy efforts surrounding domestic and sexual violence can be found on the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence’s website at nhcadsv.org.