Student plans to file civil suit against former New London police chief
NEW LONDON — The attorney general’s announcement last week that no criminal charges will be filed against former New London Police Chief David Seastrand based on complaints from three women will not keep Seastrand out of court on the issues.
The original complainant against Seastrand, Colby Sawyer College student Janelle Westfall, will file a civil suit against him this week, according to her lawyer, Richard J. Lehmann of Concord.
“Nobody is bound by the attorney general’s decision, a jury of 12 people will decide this,” Lehmann said, adding that he will consider the three women’s complaints for litigation if it is warranted.
As part of an April 4 negotiated agreement with the attorney general’s office, Seastrand agreed to step down from his position and give up his law enforcement career.
The agreement came after a state criminal investigation into his actions on March 6, the day when Westfall, now 19 and a sophomore at the college, claimed that Seastrand offered to drop charges against her – underage alcohol possession and giving a false name – if she would let him take nude photos of her. She said Seastrand made the offer while the two were at the police station.
Seastrand, 50, resigned as police chief and surrendered his certification as a police officer as part of the agreement in which the state agreed not to file criminal charges.
Details of the investigation are still being sought by Lehmann and the New Hampshire Union Leader through Right-to-Know requests.After Westfall came forward, three women made their complaints known to the attorney general’s office, which investigated the claims. Last week, Attorney General Joseph A. Foster announced that the additional allegations by the three women did not rise to the level of criminal conduct and each allegedly happened when Seastrand was acting “in his personal capacity.”
The three women are adults, were not in police custody, and their actions were consensual, the attorney general said. None were identified.
Lehman said the suit against Seastrand will be based on federal civil rights law, and will seek “punitive damages” against Seastrand.
“The jury will be asked to award an amount of money that will send a message to the community that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated,” Lehman said.