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ICYMI: Granite Post: "Kelly Ayotte’s role in alleged YDC cover-up under fire from 2024 Republican candidates, victims"

In Case You Missed It, a new report from the Granite Post details accusations of a systemic cover-up of abuse at the Sununu Youth Development Center during Kelly Ayotte's tenure as New Hampshire’s attorney general. The report features testimonies from fellow Republicans who allege that, despite hearing allegations of misconduct during her time as attorney general, Ayotte turned a blind eye to the ongoing abuse of minors, including incidents of rape and assault.

While Ayotte has claimed to have known nothing about the abuses while serving as attorney general, a 2010 report prepared by the Disabilities Rights Center (DRC) ”shows Ayotte’s office did in fact have exposure to abuse allegations while she was in office.” 

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Allegations of a systemic cover-up of abuse at the Sununu Youth Development Center, which has been under criminal investigation by the state since 2019, have resurfaced from Republicans running for office in 2024, focusing on Kelly Ayotte’s role during her tenure as New Hampshire Attorney General.

The accusations against Ayotte intensified during two major protests in August of 2023 and June of this year, where victims shared harrowing stories of abuse beyond a backdrop where Ayotte’s name and image was displayed prominently on posters tying her alleged complicity in the cover-up.

Terese Bastarache, Republican Executive Council candidate for District 4, and other speakers accused Ayotte of either being aware of the abuse happening at the facility — which included rape and beatings of residents — or grossly negligent in her duties during her time as Attorney General.

Bastarache described the haunting conditions of sexual violence residents of the Sununu Youth Development Center were subjected to, saying they were forced to “beat each other up, and whoever wasn’t knocked out got to go back to the room. But the ones that were knocked out, guess what? They got sodomized.”

Bastarache then pointed directly at a photograph of Ayotte and said, “The AG, who knew this was happening, wants to continue to legislate for all of us to continue to bury it for, what, another 170 years?”

According to a consolidated master complaint reported by InDepthNH, sexual and physical abuse at the Sununu Youth Development Center was known for decades and allegedly covered up by several state officials, including several past attorneys general. 

Ayotte in the past has claimed, through a spokesperson, she had no knowledge of the abuse happening at the Sununu center. However, a 2010 report prepared by the Disabilities Rights Center (DRC) shows Ayotte’s office did in fact have exposure to abuse allegations while she was in office.

Investigating one incident, the report states that in June 2008, an alleged incident of abuse occurred against a youth at the center on June 9, 2008, Two employees allegedly used “unnecessary and excessive force” while restraining a 14 year old boy committed to the facility.

The incident was eventually reported to the state’s Division for Children, Youth and Families by the boy’s legal Guardian, which prompted an investigation by the NH AG’s office.

The results of Ayotte’s office’s investigation found no wrongdoing or abuse had occurred, an outcome challenged by the DRC.

Frank staples, a former resident of the SYDC and organizer of the protests said Ayotte’s inaction during her tenure as Attorney General was disqualifying.

“She claims she didn’t know anything… there were reports as far back as 1990 that she had to have known about and she’s claiming complete ignorance. That’s not a good sign.” said Staples, who is also running for governor this year as a Republican. “Either she knew, or she was, you know, ignorant and she’s still culpable for what she was supposed to do to protect these children.”

In 2021, eleven state employees were arrested in connection with the abuse. By 2024, around 1,300 former residents had come forward to allege abuse during their time at the facility. The state established a $100 million fund to settle abuse claims in 2023, although critics, including some victims, have deemed this amount inadequate.


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