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Former NH Senate leader Woodburn found guilty of domestic violence, assault

  • State Senator Jeff Woodburn after getting gas at the downtown Whitefield convenience store near his home on Thursday, October 31, 2018.

Published: 5/13/2021 6:49:52 PM
Modified: 5/13/2021 6:49:59 PM

A jury found former New Hampshire state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn guilty of four misdemeanor charges including a domestic violence charge, but it returned not guilty verdicts on five other counts following a three-day trial in Coos Superior Court.

Woodburn, 55, of Whitefield, N.H., was the top Democrat in the upper chamber when the allegations first surfaced in August 2018. His Senate party colleagues unseated him as minority leader shortly thereafter, and he lost reelection the following November.

On Tuesday, Woodburn was found guilty of one count of domestic violence, one count of simple assault and two counts of criminal mischief. But the jury ruled he was not guilty of three counts of simple assault, one count of domestic violence and one count of criminal trespass.

The jury heard closing arguments Thursday morning and returned with a verdict after 4 p.m.

“It’s gratifying to be believed by the jury (convicted for what I admitted to and not guilty for other 5 other charges) but more important to be heard. The process has revealed much — and will reveal more,” the former Democratic senator said in a Facebook post. “As hard as this has been, by every measure my life is better because of it.”

The guilty charges are Class A misdemeanors that carry a maximum sentence of one year.

During testimony, Woodburn and the victim described how they met as active members of the Democratic party and their friendship evolved into a relationship; eventually the two were engaged to be married. Both described the other as controlling, and the victim accused Woodburn of biting her, throwing a cup of water at her, and punching her in the stomach. Woodburn said she held all the power in the relationship and described the victim as physically aggressive toward him.

Testifying as a witness for Woodburn was Dr. Paul Donahue, the Littleton therapist who counseled the pair, as a couple and individually.

As a result of the charges, both the defendant and the victim claim they lost their jobs — his for a nonprofit and the victim as a social worker. Woodburn lost reelection to the Senate, and the victim lost her bid to be Coos County Treasurer.

The courtroom has been closed for the trial. The news media and public have watched the proceedings from an adjacent courtroom via livestream video in keeping with new court protocols in domestic violence cases.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.




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