Lawyers: At least four other women have complaints about New London chief
NEW LONDON — Lawyers representing a Colby-Sawyer College student who accused former Police Chief David Seastrand of asking her to pose nude in exchange for dropping charges against her said Associate Attorney General Jane Young has asked them to refer any new complaints they receive about Seastrand to her office.
Concord attorney Charles Douglas, who represents the woman, Janelle Westfall, 18, of Alexandria, with attorney Rick Lehmann, said at least four more women have contacted his office with complaints against Seastrand.
Douglas said Young’s letter was dated Monday.
“At least four more women have called,” Douglas said on Wednesday. “Our policy is to take the call, get the essential information and refer them to the Attorney General’s Office. We are not independently conducting an investigation.”
His office will honor Young’s request, he said, and wait to see if there will be any criminal charges against Seastrand.
The four women, and Westfall, are all seeking justice, Douglas said.
“Obviously we will not move forward on any of the new cases until the state has had an opportunity to meet with the women and properly investigate,” Douglas said.
Seastrand resigned last week as part of a negotiated agreement with the Attorney General’s Office after an investigation into his actions on March 6, the day that Westfall alleges he asked her to pose nude for photos in exchange for having her charges dropped.
Westfall was arrested for underage alcohol possession and giving a false name to police, according to her lawyer.
She claims Seastrand called her a few days after her arraignment and made the request.
Lehmann released photos and a news release Tuesday night identifying his client as Westfall, because a media outlet he did not name had identified her.
Young wouldn’t say if she sent the letter to Lehmann seeking complaint referrals, and would only say that “several” additional women have called her office to complain about Seastrand.
Young said the disposition reached with Seastrand was that he would not be charged with a crime as long as he resigned immediately and agreed to never work in law enforcement again.
The crime that would have likely fit such circumstances is official oppression, which is a misdemeanor, Young said.
Her office also took into consideration the fact that the “claimant had provided a false name and there were no witnesses to the alleged conduct” when deciding against filing criminal charges against Seastrand.
“Sometimes people lose sight of the fact that you can bring charges based on probable cause, but we have to prove the elements beyond a reasonable doubt,” Young said.
Douglas called it “outrageous” that the Attorney General’s Office would characterize it as a “he said, she said” situation in not prosecuting a crime on Westfall’s complaint. It is not infrequent that there are no witnesses to serious crimes, Douglas said.
“She was not doing this to further a modeling career,” or for money, Douglas said. “She is a college student who was upset at the request by a law enforcement officer that was highly inappropriate.”
Lehmann’s news release Tuesday said: “Ms. Westfall asks that the media respect her privacy as she goes about her daily life. It was a difficult and courageous act for this brave 18-year-old to come forward and report the police chief’s conduct to the Attorney General’s Office.”
Lehmann expressed anger that his client had been identified.
“The same Constitution that protects our right to be free from improper police conduct also protects the right of the media to publish public information. This is as it should be. However, that does not make it appropriate for the media to disrupt the day-to-day life of an 18-year-old college student,” Lehmann said.
Lehmann asked that the photos he supplied be used in future news media stories.
“In order to satisfy the anticipated desire of the media to publish a visual image of Ms. Westfall, I have attached two photographs that accurately depict her appearance. It is our hope that these photographs will obviate the need for photographers to seek her out.”
Lehmann said he will be speaking for his client, who will file a civil suit against Seastrand, he said.
“Finally, Ms. Westfall would like to thank her family, friends, and the Colby-Sawyer College community for supporting her during this difficult time,” he said.
Staff writer Nancy Westcontributed to this report.