Sex abuse charges expand to 2nd New Hampshire youth center

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FILE – In this Jan. 28, 2020, file photo is the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, N.H. Four more arrests have been made in connection with a broad criminal investigation into physical and sexual abuse allegations at New Hampshire’s youth detention center. The attorney general’s office said Wednesday, April 21, 2021 that Stanley Watson, Victor Malavet, Trevor Middleton and Jonathan Brand have been charged with 14 counts of sexual assault involving five victims between 1997 and 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Four former youth detention center workers charged with sexual assault made initial court appearances in New Hampshire on Thursday, including a man accused of abusing a girl multiple times in a candy storage closet at a second state-run facility.

The state has made 11 arrests this month in connection with a broad investigation into physical and sexual abuse allegations at the Youth Development Center in Manchester, now called the Sununu Youth Services Center. The allegations against Victor Malavet are the first, however, to involve the Youth Detention Services Unit in Concord, where children were held while awaiting disposition of their cases by the courts.

Malavet, 58, of Gilford, is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, all against a girl held at the Concord facility in 2001. Assistant Attorney General Timothy Sullivan said Malavet started paying special attention to the girl soon after she arrived, treating her better than other residents and giving her special privileges.

“She was selected to be the resident who would go to a candy storage room to pick out candy for the other residents,” Sullivan said. But once inside the closet-like room, she was coerced into sex, Sullivan said.

Malavet later was transferred to Manchester after other staffers reported “there was something going on between the two of them,” said Sullivan, who asked the judge to order Malavet held without bail.

Malavet’s attorney, public defender Catherine Flinchbaugh, said he absolutely denies the allegations and asked for him to be released on personal recognizance. She described him as an Army veteran with no criminal record who has been married for 36 years.

“He is a family man and he will remain law-abiding as he always has,” she said.

The judge set bail at $25,000. Meanwhile, the other three men arrested Wednesday — Jonathan Brand, Trevor Middleton and Stanley Watson — also appeared in court but their bail hearings were scheduled for Friday because they didn’t have attorneys.

The Manchester facility, which now holds both youth awaiting adjudication and those ordered to a secure setting afterward, is named for former Gov. John H. Sununu, father of the current governor. It has been the target of a criminal investigation since 2019, as well as a lawsuit in which more than 200 men and women allege they were physically or sexually abused as children by 150 staffers from 1963 to 2018. According to their attorney, children were gang raped by counselors, beaten while raped, forced to compete for food in “fight clubs” set up by counselors and locked in solitary confinement for weeks or months.

Seven former workers at the Manchester facility were arrested earlier this month and charged with either sexually assaulting or acting as accomplices to the assault of 12 teenagers from 1994 to 2005. Malavet and the three other men arrested this week are accused of assaulting five victims between 1997 and 2007.

Brand, 56, of Concord, is charged with two counts of sexual assault involving a boy in 2007. Middleton, 52, of Belmont, is accused of engaging in a pattern of sexual assault involving a boy between 1999 and 2001. Watson faces three charges involving two boys between 1997 and 1999.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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