Court to hear Free the Nipple case Friday


LACONIA — The city is legally free to enact public decency ordinances, countering the claim by three women who freed their nipples on Memorial Day at Weirs Beach and were cited by police, said City Prosecutor James Sawyer said Thursday.

In his objection to a request to dismiss the case against Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro, Sawyer says RSA 47:17 states that cities are authorized to pass ordinances for "order and police duty. To regulate the police of the city; to prevent any riot, noise, disturbance, or disorderly assemblages..."

Specifically, wrote Sawyer, "cities may also enact ordinance(s) to restrain and punish 'all kinds of immoral and obscene conduct, and to regulate the times and places of bathing and the waters of the city and the clothing to be worn by bathers and swimmers.'"

He said Weirs Beach is defined as a "commons" or a piece of property set aside for public use and that the city's public nudity ordinance is relevant to this.

The three women are participants in the Free the Nipple campaign, which seeks gender equality and speaks against body shaming and their perceived rape culture that blames the victim.

Sawyer said that the defendants argue that New Hampshire is a Home Rule state, which means that a municipality cannot criminalize something not made criminal by the state, is not an applicable argument because, it that was correct, "(it) would render all police power ordinances unnecessary or a mere duplication of statutory mandate."

Using zoning as an example and citing case law to support it, Sawyer said that one set of rules may work for one community but not another because of their individual characters, geography, identity, current community standards and morals.

He said if the state legislature didn't want individual communities to regulate the common areas of their town, then the city couldn't make rules regarding operation hours for libraries and parks or to prohibit using bicycles, rollerblades or other similar items at Smith Track.

Sawyer said there is nothing in state law that stops the city from passing an ordinance on public nudity or exposing female nipples in public.

He said there is no actual conflict between state law and Laconia's ordinance because conflict only occurs when a municipal ordinance allows "that which a state statute prohibits and vice versa."

As for Lilley's, Sinclair's and Pierro's claim that the ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clause, Sawyer said that equal protection demands "that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike."

"The male body and the female body are different," wrote Sawyer, adding that the Equal Protection Clause doesn't pretend that men and women are the same.

He said the U.S. Supreme Court "'has consistently upheld statutes where the genders classification is not invidious, but realistically reflects the fact that the sexes are not similarly situated in certain circumstances.'"

Regulations such as the public nudity ordinance, Sawyer said, have an important government objective which is to protect the public's sensibilities..., which is an objective based not on cultural stereotypes but on "real 'physical difference between the sexes which have implications for the moral and aesthetic sensitivities of a substantial majority of the country.'"

As to whether Laconia's ordinance violates the First Amendment Rights to self expression and free speech, Sawyer puts it to a four prong test, namely that it is within the city's right to enact it; that it furthers an important government interest, that the city's interest is unrelated to free expression and the restriction is no greater than is essential to Laconia's interest.

Sawyer said the ban on exposing nipples has nothing to do with suppression of free speech saying that other courts have said they "cannot accept the view that an apparently limitless variety of conduct can be labeled 'speech."

He said Laconia's ordinance seeks to prevent the public health, public safety, morals and public order and also prevents the secondary effects of increased crime and reduction of property values.
He said the movement is not inhibited its participants having to cover their nipples.

"The are able to advocate the benefits of nude sunbathing albeit while fully dressed," he wrote, quoting a ruling from Florida.

Trial is scheduled to begin today (Friday) at 8 a.m. in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Hunt continues in Meredith for suspect in shooting of Belmont woman


BELMONT — Police believe the man who allegedly shot a 33-year-old Massachusetts woman in the head on Tuesday afternoon on Arlene Drive may still be in the area. State and local police continued to search for suspect Jason Cuocolo, 42, of Belmont, and spent much of the day on Thursday scouring the woods and other possible hiding spots in an area off Route 3 near the Laconia border.

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As a State Police helicopter circled overhead, several three-man teams of troopers plus a K-9 traipsed the forested terrain surrounding the Vacation Escape Motel, formerly known as The Great Escape, at 34 Daniel Webster Highway.
Using the parking lots at Ready Equipment rental the site of the since razed Jade Island restaurant as a staging area, police also searched
wooded areas between several residential neighborhoods and used the dog to comb the Town Line Cottages, which remains closed and sports a for sale sign. Teams searched sections of Needle Eye Road, and behind Pirates Cove miniature golf. They also spent time on Tracy Way off Parade Road.
Vacation Escape Motel manager Nancy Brown told police Cuocolo asked her for a room Tuesday night, according to The Concord Monitor.
Lt. Scott Gilbert of the State Police Major Crimes Unit said Thursday that Cuocolo appears to have ditched the car he allegedly stole at gunpoint from someone else at the Belmont home in Meredith but there haven’t been any other vehicles reported stolen from the area.
“If he was going to leave the area, he would have likely used the vehicle he stole,” Gilbert said.
He said Cuocolo does not have a car registered in his name.
Belmont and State Police responded Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. to a report of a woman who had been shot in the head at 24 Arlene Drive. On Wednesday, police surrounded Vacation Escape after getting information that Cuocolo may be staying there. One unidentified man who had outstanding warrants for an unrelated crime was taken away by police in handcuffs due to the search.
Gilbert said Thursday that police have learned the victim and Cuocolo knew each other, likely from an association they had in Massachusetts. He said Cuocolo had been living in New Hampshire and she lived in Massachusetts.

“No doubt they were at least acquaintances over the past several months,” he said.
Gilbert said the victim, who has not been identified, remains in critical but stable condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. He said she has been able to communicate with police and is expected to survive her injuries.
A search of Laconia Family Court records found that Coucolo has no history of domestic violence.
Police ask that anyone with information call them, and note that the public should consider Cuocolo armed and dangerous.



I-L students get a glimpse of advanced manufacturing

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Luke Gregory of Aavid Thermalloy in Laconia demonstrates the heat transfer properties of a copper tube to 13 Advanced Placement calculus and computer science students from Inter-Lakes High School, who visited the plant yesterday for Manufacturing Week. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)


LACONIA — "This is really not what I expected," said Matthew Dufffield, one of a baker's dozen of students from Inter-Lakes High School who visited the headquarters of Aavid Thermalloy, LLC on Wednesday during Manfacturing Week. Duffield said that the openness, orderliness and cleanliness of the facility came as a surprise.

During Manufacturing Week 70 firms across the state — nearly a dozen in the Lakes Region — open their doors to students to introduce them to the opportunities of pursuing careers in manufacturing and engineering , where both the demand and rewards for employees are high. The first step, reflected by Duffield's reaction, is to dispel the image of manufacturing as repetitive, rote work requiring limited knowledge and skill and undertaken in unpleasant settings.

The students, all but one members of the advanced placement calculus and computer science classes taught by Jennifer Thomas, split their morning between Aavid Thermalloy and its neighbor in the O'Shea Industrial Park, New Hampshire Ball Bearing. Founded in Laconia in 1964, Aavid Thermalloy designs and manufactures thermal management products of metals, which are applied in a wide variety of setting where heat is generated, including telecommunications networks, data centers and consumer electronics as well as a variety of industries.

At Aavid all seemed intrigued by their introduction to advanced manufacturing. They regularly questioned their hosts, Dave Lacroix, production control manager, and Norm Laramie, manufacturing manager, and were especially intrigued by Luke Gregory, a design engineer who fashions and tests products to meet the particular, often challenging, specifications of customers, among them dispelling the heat generated by stadium lighting.

"I appreciate opportunities like this," said Joshua Schmalie, who stayed behind to question Gregory after he demonstrated the properties of a simple copper rod that transferred heat from a beaker of water. The son of computer programmer, Schmalie said he enjoyed both engineering and computer science and intended to apprentice with his father before enrolling in college, where he would choose between the two. He said while he would not expect to work on the shop floor, he would enjoy designing and engineering products.

For Tyler Reid the visit was something of a revelation as he was not aware of the high-tech advanced manufacturing enterprises serving global markets in the region. Fascinated by flying, he wants to become an aeronautical engineer, but to spend time in the air before turning to design, particularly the secrets of flight itself.

The one student not enrolled in the advanced placement classes, sophomore Noah Bell Fontaine, was perhaps the most enthusiastic of all. Noting that his grandfather worked at New Hampshire Ball Bearing, he said "I like to work with metal. Anything to do with metal." He said he worked in the shop at school, but enjoyed coming to Aavid Thermalloy "to get an idea of what I would like to do."

There were two young women in the class, both of whom intended to study engineering Catherine Robert said that while her preference is electrical engineering, she found the visit an opportunity see firsthand how theoretical knowledge is transformed into practical applications. Brianna Knauss, the daughter of a machinist who operates what she called his own "one man shop," was no stranger to the shop floor and also expects to become an engineer.

Last year, nearly two-thirds of the 1,600 students visiting manufacturing facilities during the week reported they were "only somewhat informed, if at all" of advanced manufacturing. Following their visits, 61 percent said they would be more likely to consider in the manufacturing sector.

Thomas said that her students are an especially accomplished group, most of whom have begun to plot their future after graduation. She said that Manufacturing Week has presented them with an opportunity to get a close look at where they could find themselves in the years to come.

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Dave Lacroix, production control manager at Aavid Thermalloy in Laconia, displays a component machined to a fine tolerance in their shop to students from Inter-Lakes High School. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)