Hillary Bomber Hooked on Drugs & Booze; Abused, Homeless, Tried Suicide

By Stephanie Gaskell and Larry McShane
Daily News
December 2, 2007

When he was 21, Leeland Eisenberg was a homeless drunk and drug abuser, driven from home by a brutal father and living inside abandoned cars at a Massachusetts junkyard.

Then his life took a turn for the worse. And another. And yet another.

Leeland Eisenberg's troubles began well before he held a half dozen people hostage at Hillary Clinton's campaign office. Click for scenes from the hostage drama and Eisenberg's life.
Desperate for help, he sought refuge at a local church - where he allegedly was molested by a priest. A failed suicide attempt followed, as did a conviction and jail time for forcing a woman - at knifepoint - to perform oral sex on him outside a Holiday Inn.

Released from prison in 2005, Eisenberg abandoned Massachusetts and settled last summer in a Somersworth, N.H., trailer park.

But his downward slide continued unabated: Eisenberg, now 46, was behind bars again Saturday after his arrest Friday for allegedly using a phony bomb to take six hostages in Sen. Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign offices, authorities said.

His wife, Lisa, had filed for divorce just three days before the hostage drama.

Court documents, along with published reports, detail Eisenberg's precipitous descent during the past 25 years, a tortured existence of bad luck, bad decisions and bad behavior.

In papers filed when he sued the Archdiocese of Boston over the molestation charge in 2002, Eisenberg said his Groton, Mass., boyhood was defined by his mother's early death and his "violent, alcoholic" father's verbal and physical abuse.

He fled home for the automobile graveyard in Ayer, Mass., according to his suit, sleeping inside an assortment of junkers in the early 1980s. Eisenberg, known then as Ralph E. Woodward Jr., visited the local parish seeking help; he wound up with a cot in the boiler room and a part-time job at St. Catherine's in Westford, Mass.

Eisenberg also wound up, he claimed, being the victim of a predatory parish priest who plied him with liquor and pornography.

After one drinking bout, the lawsuit said, Eisenberg came out of an alcoholic stupor "to find himself being raped ... in the driveway of St. Catherine's rectory."

Eisenberg attempted suicide within days by leaping from a bridge in Ayer and was brought to the first of several psychiatric hospitals, where he was treated during the next few years, the suit says.

Eisenberg filed the suit after spotting former priest Richard Buntel during a television news report that the former cleric had been suspended by the archdiocese over other sexual misconduct allegations.

Although he received an undisclosed settlement from the archdiocese, Eisenberg's aunt and the accused priest both labeled him a liar in a 2002 article by The Lowell Sun.

"He's a good actor," Eisenberg's aunt said. "I would stick up for the priest."

Buntel, who did not return a phone call yesterday, said in the same article that Eisenberg "was a really scary individual ... I just knew he was a con man from the word go."

When The Sun story ran in 2002, Eisenberg said he was serving a 12- to 20-year prison term for the 1986 sexual assault. Massachusetts correction officials, without confirming his crime, said Eisenberg was released from jail on March 16, 2005.



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.