Out of jail - Gilford man whose case ended in mistrial freed


LACONIA — A Gilford man whose sexual assault trial ended with a hung jury earlier this week was freed from the Belknap County House of Corrections Thursday after a circuit court judge granted him personal recognizance bail for violations that allege he called the woman eight times while he was incarcerated.

The eight charges of breach of bail against Carroll Thompson, 45, were brought forward by the Laconia Police in November. He was charged after the alleged victim told the police about the calls about a month before she was scheduled to testify against him.

His bail for the violations was set by 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division Presiding Justice Jim Carroll at $5,000 cash-only. Since he was already being held on $25,000 cash for the alleged sexual assault, his defense team didn't make any bail argument when he was charged in November.

Following a hearing on Wednesday in Superior Court, Thompson's bail was reset at $10,000 personal recognizance but his circuit court charges are still pending, as were the bail conditions, so he spent an additional night in jail. Since one court allowed for his release on Wednesday, Thompson was entitled to a quick bail hearing in the other court on the bail violation charges.

Thompson's attorney Eric Wolpin told the judge Thursday about the circumstances of the the mistrial and asked for personal recognizance bail on the eight alleged bail violations. He said that Thompson did not come from a wealthy family and that he would be living in Gilford with his mother.

Laconia City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said he wouldn't oppose the requested bail reduction because of prior case law. Judge Carroll said that Thompson must still abide by all of the bail conditions set by the Superior Court judge, including that he go to the Belknap County Restorative Justice Department immediately upon release for bail supervision.

Thompson was tried last week for two counts of rape but the jury reported back that it could not reach a unanimous decision and that 11 of 12 jurors voted for acquittal. The court declared a mistrial, but the charges against him still stand.

It is not known if the Belknap County Attorney's office will retry Thompson and, if so, on what charges.


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County Delegation asked to approve payroll payment


LACONIA — The Executive Committee of the Belknap County Delegation will meet at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20, to take up requests for budget transfers sought by Belknap County Commissioners.

Major transfers the committee is being asked to approve include $47,384 from the contingency fund for a payment to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and $52,739 to meet payroll in all departments.
Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett told members of the Belknap County Delegation Monday night that the county's percentage of the statewide payments to DHHS for residents in private nursing homes had increased and the county was now being billed $6,178,549 instead of the $6,131,566 it had budgeted. The increase in payroll was due to the fact that payroll projections did not take into account that accrued payroll from 2015 which was paid in 2016 was credited back to 2015, creating a situation in which the county is liable for almost a full week of additional payroll for 2016 which had not been projected.
County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Gilmanton) said that Shackett was not aware of those changes when the commission met with the delegation last month and that the delegation was informed of the pending transfer requests as soon as commissioners were aware that they were needed.
Other transfer requests included $7,000 for health care incentive bonuses for non-union employees, $1,500 for sprinkler and fire suppression system repairs for the nursing home, $1,450 for dental care at the nursing home, $400 for additional cell phone fees for the maintenance department, $500 for transcribing a deposition in a sexual assault case and $600 for advertising to fill a key position in the nursing home caused by a recent resignation, as well as another vacancy.

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Laconia school officials to draft policy on background checks


LACONIA — Spurred by a new state law, Laconia school officials are developing a policy for which volunteers will undergo criminal background checks.
State law, SB-152, which took effect July 19, tasks school superintendents with requesting and reviewing background checks as part of the process of hiring employees and enlisting volunteers. The new law applies to all crimes, not just felonies, and requires background checks for "school employees and designated school volunteers." The law, during its passage, was viewed as a bid to offer heightened protection for children.
Superintendent Brendan Minnihan told the Laconia School Board Tuesday that the district will implement a specific background-check policy so all schools are consistent in how they screen employees and volunteers.
Minnihan said district administrators are "trying to draw some fairly stark lines about who would get a background check," noting that the new, stricter law means Laconia School District could include all volunteers under the policy.
Background checks are required for employees and any volunteer who has an opportunity to be alone with children, but "it gets murkier" when a volunteer may not be alone with students, Minnihan said.
Minnihan said he will work with a district policy committee over the next few months and bring a draft policy to the full board for two readings.
Background checks already keep the administrative office busy. By the end of the school year, Minnihan said he expects to review 80 to 100 background checks for both employees and volunteers.
"Before, I never would have seen them unless one came up as a challenge," Minnihan said.
Now he sees all of them because of the new law.
In a brief report to the school board, Minnihan explained that all results come to the superintendent for review.
"The report from the fingerprints can only be sent and seen by the superintendent of schools, no one else, so we've had 65 or so come back this year," he said.
Minnihan said he shreds the reports in view of staff.
A state report may read, "no disqualifying record," or, if there is a criminal record, "misdemeanor," or "felony conviction that precludes employment," and the superintendent can act accordingly.
The misdemeanor alerts are new this year, based on the law, Minnihan explained. An incident in Claremont precipitated the law's passage, he said.
In SAU 6, a former high school math teacher had a criminal record involving the theft and illegal sale of "federal equipment," which was not known when he was hired in September 2013 because of a prior plea agreement. The employee ultimately was charged with engaging in sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old student, officials in SAU explained, according to news reports during the law's passage.
Former stat Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, one of the sponsors of the law, said he hopes all school districts follow the example of Laconia School District by adopting a background-check policy.
"The intent of the bill was to protect our kids from predators that would go after the kids at the schools," he said.
SB-152 reads: "If the criminal history records information indicates that the applicant has been convicted of ... any crime or has been charged pending disposition for or convicted of a crime listed in paragraph V, the ... superintendent of the school administrative unit or the chief executive officer of the chartered public school or public academy shall review the information for a hiring decision, and the division of state police shall notify the department of education of any such charges pending disposition or convictions. The ... superintendent of the school administrative unit or the chief executive officer of the chartered public school or public academy shall destroy any criminal history record information that indicates a criminal record within 30 days of receiving such information."

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