New London’s Police Chief Resigns Amid State Investigation of Colby-Sawyer College Student’s Complaint
New London Police Chief David J. Seastrand, from the Town of New London's web site.
New London — Police Chief David Seastrand has agreed to resign — but will not face criminal charges — after he allegedly offered to drop charges against a Colby-Sawyer College student in exchange for nude modeling.
On March 6, a female student filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office alleging that Seastrand, who had arrested her days earlier, had told her “charges would be dropped if she allowed him to take a series of nude photographs of her,” the Attorney General’s Office said.
Yesterday, Seastrand, a 27-year law enforcement veteran, agreed to resign and permanently surrender his police certification. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
“Based on where the investigation was at this point, the immediate resignation was a (acceptable) result,” Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Jane Young said in an interview. “We have to take into account risks associated with a trial. A trial would have been a number of months down the road. This ensures he left office today and will never be in a position to be an officer again.”
Concord attorney Rick Lehmann, who represents the Colby-Sawyer student, said that she had been arrested on charges of underage drinking and providing false information to a police officer.
Lehmann said Seastrand later asked her to come to the police department, then harassed her for three hours.
“There was an extended attempt to bargain away her criminal charges in exchange for her allowing herself to be photographed naked,” Lehmann told the Concord Monitor. “Obviously she refused.”
The student thought it would have been “desirable” to see Seastrand face criminal charges, Lehmann said, but accepted prosecutors’ decision.
A civil lawsuit against the New London Police Department is likely, Lehmann said.
Seastrand personally arrested the woman, Lehmann said, and was not in uniform and was driving an unmarked car at the time. Other students arrested at the same time were taken into custody by uniformed officers, Lehmann said.
“My client was picked out and arrested in an unusual way,” Lehmann said in an interview.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the student was summoned to the police station a few days after her arrest to discuss a resolution to the charge.
The woman was not in custody at the time, Young said, and there were no witnesses to the alleged interaction.
When asked if Seastrand admitted to the allegations, Young took a long pause.
“I’m not going to answer that question,” she told the Concord Monitor.
The student, who is from central New Hampshire, still faces charges of underage drinking and giving a false name to police, Lehmann said.
“She’s fairly shaken by it. It’s been ... a lot of stress,” Lehmann said. “It’s a taxing time for her.”
Colby-Sawyer College President Thomas Galligan did not respond to a message seeking comment late yesterday.
In considering whether to offer a deal to Seastrand, prosecutors weighed the fact that the student had been arrested on criminal charges, which could have cast doubt on her motivations, and that there were no witnesses, Young said.
There are no other pending complaints against Seastrand, Young said, though prosecutors would “fully investigate,” additional allegations, which would not be covered by yesterday’s resignation agreement.
“If there are others, we would follow through on that,” Young said.
Yesterday’s announcement by the Attorney General’s Office came the same week Seastrand informed the Selectboard that he had “chosen to retire” at the end of this month.
“After many months of consideration, and discussions with many trusted friends and family, I have chosen to retire,” Seastrand wrote to the board on Monday. “I have enjoyed 27 years of employment to the Town of New London. It has been my honor to have worked with so many dedicated individuals throughout the years, that have made this job and my experiences working here so meaningful.”
Seastrand told the board that he had “set an end date” of April 30, and would help make for a smooth transition.
In an interview, New London Town Administrator Kimberly Hallquist said the town learned only yesterday of the specific allegations against Seastrand.
Hallquist said she learned on March 13 that Seastrand was the focus of a criminal investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, but was not informed of the specific allegations. She said she did not consider placing Seastrand on paid leave.
“We had no idea,” Hallquist said. “I had nothing to base it on.”
Seastrand had been considering retiring for several months, Hallquist said.
“The Selectmen reiterate their strong support for Chief Seastrand and appreciation for his service to the Town of New London for the past 27 years and wish him the very best in the future,” Hallquist said in a prepared statement yesterday.
Police Sgt. Edward Andersen was appointed acting chief by the Selectboard.
“Obviously, we are concerned about the police department,” Hallquist said. “We’re worried about everybody.”
Selectboard chairman Peter Bianchi did not respond to a message seeking comment.
It is unclear if Seastrand would be able to collect his public employee pension.
Young said the agreement did not include any stipulations about his retirement compensation.
“That’s a question I can’t answer,” Young said. “That’s not something we would negotiate. We were conducting a criminal investigation.”
Mark Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3304.
Information from the Concord Monitor Contributed to this report.