Judge Hears Testimony in Couple’s Request for Restraining Order Against Sunapee Police Chief

  • Heather Furlong questions Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill on Sept. 7, 2017, in Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H.,. Her husband, Joseph Furlong, is beside her. The couple was in court seeking a restraining order against Cahill. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Heather Furlong and Joseph Furlong look toward Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill on Sept. 7, 2017 in Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H.,. The couple was in court seeking a restraining order against Cahill. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Correspondent
Friday, September 08, 2017

Newport — Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill defended his conduct during the investigation of possible illegal influence in the town’s 2016 School Board election on Thursday in Sullivan County Superior Court.

After nearly three hours of sometimes emotional and often contradictory testimony, Judge Brian Tucker said he expected to issue a ruling this morning on Joseph and Heather Furlong’s request for a restraining order from Cahill. The Furlongs acted as their own attorney during Thursday’s court hearing.

In their application for a restraining order, filed late last month, the Furlongs alleged a pattern of intimidating and threatening behavior by Cahill, stemming from his investigation into whether Joseph Furlong and another man tampered with an email, potentially impacting the outcome of a School Board election in which Heather Furlong won one of two available seats.

Heather Furlong took the stand first on Thursday, often staring at Cahill as she spoke.

“I’m very concerned with a pattern Mr. Cahill has demonstrated with myself and my husband,” she said. “I specifically don’t want Mr. Cahill to approach me, approach my husband or anyone in my family.”

Heather Furlong accused Cahill of trying to “force her to abide by his will.”

She cited two instances on the same day in March when Cahill came to the Furlong home — the first time with another officer — to arrest her husband, who was charged on Feb. 28. She said police had been told through Joseph Furlong’s attorney that he would turn himself in on March 15, which he did. When Cahill returned to her home later that day, Heather Furlong said, she became frightened.

“I was very afraid of him,” she said.

It was during those encounters, she said, that Cahill told her to stop insisting her husband was innocent.

In his response, Cahill admitted “he may have told Mrs. Furlong to stop insisting that Mr. Furlong has not had a role in changing the email,” but maintained he had not done anything to the Furlongs that constituted intimidating or threatening behavior.

As she finished her testimony, Heather Furlong became emotional, crying as she pleaded with the judge to issue the restraining order.

“I was unable to sleep. It created an environment of fear when I became a prisoner in my own home, and your honor, that is why I need a restraining order against Dave Cahill,” she said.

Cahill had a different recollection. He said in his response that the visits to the Furlong home were “nonconfrontational” and that he only went to the house to ask where Joseph Furlong was.

“I said it was important he turn himself in,” Cahill said.

Cahill, who testified for about an hour, was questioned mostly by his attorney, Walter Mitchell.

In addition to denying having threatened the Furlongs, he also denied much of what Joseph Furlong wrote in his application for the restraining order in late August.

In that five-page document, Furlong claimed that Cahill refused to believe him when he denied sending the email, told him that if he didn’t admit to sending the email he would make his life very hard, and refused to take information about potential witnesses.

“It all felt very malicious. He wouldn’t take my side of the story. I wasn’t even there at the time. I said I didn’t send (the email), and he got very aggravated with me,” Furlong said on the stand.

Joseph Furlong was arrested in March of this year and charged with several misdemeanors related to the alleged altering of an email that may have affected the outcome of the 2016 School Board election, in which his wife won a seat. Those charges recently were withdrawn, and three new charges were filed against him in July. A judge, however, dismissed the new charges, ruling the statute of limitations in the case had expired.

The state Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, has filed for a reconsideration of the ruling. A second person, Adam Gaw, of Manchester, still has similar charges pending.

Heather Furlong resigned her School Board seat in May, shortly after her husband’s arrest. On Thursday, she accused Cahill of “extorting” the seat from her, something the chief denied in court documents.

“I don’t sleep good at night,” Joseph Furlong said during his testimony. “I feel (Cahill) is out to get me and will get vengeance because the charges were dismissed.”

He told Tucker he wanted protection until he was able to move his family out of town.

Among the other claims by the Furlongs is that Cahill told Heather Furlong he could “come and arrest her at any time,” which Cahill also denied.

Cahill said he remained professional and never issued any “threats” against the Furlongs.

In his questioning, Mitchell made several references to friendly encounters between Cahill and Joseph Furlong at soccer games and other events, but said they all happened prior to Furlong’s arrest. The Furlongs, meanwhile, said they thought the probe concluded in March 2016 and were not aware there still was an active investigation in the case.

During the hearing, Tucker said he understood the Furlongs are “upset and in fear,” but those were not sufficient reasons to issue a restraining order.

“If I don’t issue a restraining order, you are not likely to suffer some sort of harm,” the judge said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.