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North Country Senator facing multiple counts of domestic violence

Woodburn vows to fight charges in court, resists calls for resignation

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
August 08, 2018
WHITEFIELD — Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield will be arraigned on Aug. 20 at the Circuit Court in Lancaster, where he will answer to the charges of domestic violence.

The Attorney General's announcement of the charges last week came as a shock to the 58 communities Woodburn represents in the New Hampshire Senate, as well as to several colleagues in Concord who know Woodburn well.

Woodburn turned himself in to the Concord Police Department after learning of the charges against him on Thursday afternoon, where he was released on $500 cash bail. The third term Senator is to have no contact with the victim as part of the conditions of release.

In his only public comment on the case to date — a statement released through his attorney, Preti Flaherty of Concord — Woodburn said, "This afternoon, I learned that a warrant had been issued for my arrest. I voluntarily responded to the police station, cooperated with law enforcement during the booking process, and was released. I intend to fully address and defend against these charges in court."

The 53 year old Woodburn will answer to several class A misdemeanor charges, including two counts of simple assault alleging that he caused unprivileged physical contact to the adult female victim by throwing a cup of water in her face and then throwing the empty cup at her as well; striking her in the face on Aug. 10, 2017; and striking the victim in the stomach with his hand on Dec. 24 , 2017. Two additional counts of simple assault charge Woodburn with causing bodily injury to the adult female victim by biting the victim on her left hand, resulting in bruising on Dec. 15, 2017; and biting the victim on her right forearm, resulting in bruising, on or between June 9 and 10 of this year. Two counts of criminal mischief charge Woodburn with causing damage to the property of the adult female victim by: kicking the door of her clothes dryer, causing it to be broken away from the dryer housing, having no right to do so nor any reasonable basis for belief of having such a right, on Aug. 10, 2017; and kicking in the locked door to the victim's home which damaged the door and door casing, having no right to do so nor any reasonable basis for belief of having such a right, on Dec. 24, 2017 and one count of criminal trespass charging Woodburn with entering or remaining in the residence of the adult female victim, after forcing open the locked door to the residence, an occupied structure knowing that he was not licensed or privileged to do so on Dec. 24, 2017.

New Hampshire's entire Congressional delegation joined political figures from across the state in condemning the accusations against Woodburn as unacceptable and calling on him to resign from his position.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said, "While Sen. Woodburn, like all citizens, is entitled to his day in court, these charges are extremely serious. We cannot look away and cannot excuse any domestic abuse. Domestic violence is a horrible crime and cannot be tolerated anywhere. Senator Woodburn must resign immediately."

Sen. Maggie Hassan, who worked side by side with Woodburn on several issues pertaining to the North Country during her tenure as governor, said, "We must never tolerate the grave and despicable crime of domestic violence. Given these extremely disturbing and serious charges, Jeff Woodburn must resign immediately."

Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) said "I'm shocked and disturbed to learn of the domestic violence charges against Sen. Jeff Woodburn. Elected officials exist to serve the public interest and should be held to a higher standard. There is no excuse and absolutely no room for domestic abuse and violence in our society."

Congresswoman Annie Kuster said of the charges, "The allegations against Sen. Woodburn are deeply disturbing and unacceptable. Domestic violence is abhorrent and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Sen. Woodburn should resign his position immediately."

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley was among the first to issue a statement, which said "The New Hampshire Democratic Party stands firm in our belief that any form of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or domestic violence is completely unacceptable behavior for anyone let alone our public officials who should all be held to a higher standard. We take these accusations against Senator Jeff Woodburn very seriously and stand with his accuser and support her during this unimaginably painful time. We are asking Senator Woodburn to resign from office immediately."

Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester was the only one of the Senate's nine remaining Democrats not to endorse the party's statement, suggesting instead that there should not be a rush to judgment until Woodburn has had his day in court.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wrote, "Domestic violence should always be condemned in the strongest terms and there must be accountability for acts of abuse. I'm appalled by these charges and call on Jeff Woodburn to resign."

Speaking for the state Republican Party, Chair Wayne MacDonald said, "I am deeply shocked and outraged by these allegations. As a State Senator and the highest ranking leader of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Sen. Woodburn has betrayed the public trust and inflicted serious and lasting harm. He should resign immediately. Tonight our thoughts and prayers should be with the victim of these terrible acts. I hope and pray that the victim may now begin the healing process."

MacDonald then turned his fury on the Democratic party's leadership, stating "These events, and the preemptive leaks by Democratic officials, also raise serious questions about the entire Democratic Party. How did the Democratic Party know about these charges before the Attorney General's announcement? How long did Democrats cover these events up? Every Democrat now needs to answer this question: what did you know and when did you know it? All of these questions must be thoroughly investigated, and I have full confidence that the Attorney General's office will do everything it can to bring this tragic case to a just conclusion."

Shortly before noon on Monday, Woodburn issued a follow-up statement through his attorney announcing that he would be stepping aside as Senate Minority Leader "to devote my full attention to clearing my name and representing my North Country constituents."

"As a father, my family comes first," he added. "Supporting them will be my priority during the difficult time ahead."

Woodburn, who had no prior criminal record, has been a strong advocate for the interests of the North Country during his tenure in the Senate.

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