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Teacher charged with sex assault of 18-year-old student. First case under NH’s new law

BRENTWOOD — A former New Hampshire teacher of the year finalist is facing felony charges, accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old student last year in what is the first criminal case brought under a new state law.

Bridgette Doucette-Howell, 38, of Merrimack, was indicted on three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault for allegedly engaging in intercourse, and one count of felonious sexual assault for allegedly kissing the student between April 26 and May 13, 2021, in Kingston and Exeter.

The criminal case tests a new legal provision, known as the Howie Leung Loophole Law, intended to prevent those holding positions of authority from engaging in any kind of sexual contact with students, even if the student is not a juvenile and out of school at the time.

 

Bridgette Doucette-Howell
 
Bridgette Doucette-Howell

Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway said if there is a conviction, the maximum sentence for each aggravated felonious sexual assault offense is 10 to 20 years in prison. The felonious sexual assault penalty carries a 3 ½ to 7-year sentence, according to the indictment.

Doucette-Howell has waived arraignment and has entered a plea of not guilty. She is currently free on personal recognizance bail, conditioned on her having no contact with the alleged victim and having “no unsupervised contact with children under 18 except her own.”

Kurt Olson, one of Doucette-Howell’s attorneys, declined to comment on details of the case, except to say his client “continues to maintain her innocence of all charges.”

According to published reports, when the alleged crimes took place, Doucette-Howell was working at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston as a drama coach, her connection with the school on a limited basis for its theater arts extracurricular activity.

 

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(Howie Leung Loophole Law)

The new provision makes it a felony to engage in sexual activity “when the actor is an employee, contractor, or volunteer at a primary or secondary educational institution and the victim is a student and up to 10 months after the student’s graduation…”

The intent of the provision concentrates on the influence authority figures have on relationships with students instead of the student’s age, since 18-year-olds are considered legal adults in most forums.

Interesting they are including the ten months past graduation as a window of time eligible for prosecution while NH is blurring the line of what is a minor and what is an adult based upon context of the situation.

did not really read the whole article. Is she the 18 year old?

This is effing lunacy!

She knew better, so no sympathy. Regardless if the student was 18. It was her student and you shouldn’t cross that line.

Last edited 2 months ago by F-Texas

Another teacher bites the dust. We may run out at this rate.

Well, teachers shouldn’t be screwing students! Schools would be a mess otherwise! Yet, are they charging her because she was a teacher? Or, perhaps the student was 17 at the time. HS teachers shouldn’t be having sex with students! TS, well written. Yet, if your a SO and know the law that well, then I’m a little worried. No HS teacher should be having any sexual contact with students. It’s become interesting to see how many women are doing this?

I don’t see how this is much different than the criminalization of therapist / client sexual relationships even if it is two consenting adults. I think most can say these sort of relationships both from a teacher / former teacher or a therapist are inappropriate but what sort of reprocussions are appropriate? Personally I think it should be an ethics issue within licensing and not a criminal one. The prescribed penalty for this is insane and becoming a registrant for it even more insane.

The accused should have been educated about the law before she entered school grounds. If she was not trained accordingly, then she should have made herself aware of the laws that apply. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

If the people of NH, typically regarded as a very liberal state, find her punishment (if convicted) to be too harsh, then they need to use their votes to remove the legislature that passed the law and replace them with legislators that would pass a more acceptable punishment.

I did not have inappropriate relations with a teacher while underage. I was very attracted to one of my teachers, and she did seem to be a bit overly interested in me, but never crossed a line at all. I graduated and came back to visit within 10 months on leave because I had just seen Marines vaporized in Beirut. I was then 18 and we had intercourse. Hard for me to imagine myself a victim of her when Syrian terrorists just tried to kill me.

I do not agree with the law’s punishment level because we as Americans usually wave the magic legal flag at the stroke of midnight on a person’s 18th birthday. If I meet an 18 year old on her 18th birthday but I never knew her before, I can be intimate with her, but if she grew up next door and I never laid a finger on her until her 18th birthday, there is clearly a possibility of grooming her to be ready for sex at 18. I do agree with the law in principle, but ten years plus for the offense is quite severe.

There are people in CA who are Tier 1 and comeing off the registry who have committed FAR worse crimes, and soon the media will find out and the Tier system will be abolished and we will all be life registrants again, I really do not see the people of NH accepting a ten year sentence for a bang and a kiss of an adult student by a drama coach…. but if the DA can make her out to be a monster, then maybe they will accept her as a monster. My guess is that she will take a plea for a far reduced crime and disappear forever.

… I spent over (who knows) 200 hours, multiple phone calls to get where I’m at! I obtained my COR before the deadline and I might (some might) consider my technique a little shady, but I used the laws themselves and possibly it was by way of a loophole! If any of you go before a Judge/DA and blame the victim or ie: drugs/alcohol/ex gf, they will shoot you down! My neighbor who walks his dog past my (true story) house every night is the lead DA for one of the courts in LA! I picked his brain. You guys should be running for the courts now, had your charges expunged years ago and quit the blame game! It will get you no where! I live in OC, but obtained my COR in LA? Hmmm? I would still be a TBD, probably posted on Megan’s Law and unemployed! Get moving

At the end of the day it’s the worth the problems. She really should have thought about that.

Nevermind the moral questions.If a teacher is having sex with a student, that is an abuse of power in that the teacher can say if we don’t have sex you flunk

Glenn, you got it wrong! The bottom line is it’s against the law here in the United States for an adult to have sex with a minor? Bottom line. It doesn’t matter how mature or developed the minor is (like so many of you mentioned). If they are under 18, you will have to explain this to a judge or jury! Plus, there are obvious rules in place at both schools and colleges, that mandate professors have both moral and legal obligations to not have relationships with students! Guys, it’s pretty simple. You can argue all you want, but if your arrested and charged, you have zero re course!

Not one person has said: it’s the law? Maybe the teacher should know better? If the kid could drive? Really? Go try and get off the tier law and say this?

MC, Seriously, you just went in circles! I guess you two are above the law? I guess I know what you both did. It’s funny to see how you both attempt to act lawyer like and argue nonsense! If you have sex with an underage child (18 is the law), you can be arrested! Liability offense? Oh, you also don’t have to agree with the law! Most people who break the law don’t agree! I don’t agree with a lot of laws, but a Judge or DA will hold you accountable and if either of you where as smart as you pretend to be, you wouldn’t be registering! The bottom line is she was a teacher and had sex with a minor. Unless your both attorneys or you have these special powers to change the law, you have zero argument! Nothing you just stated makes any sense! Something stated we? Do you have a mouse in your pocket? Seriously is now making their rules? So, I guess if either of you get arrested as a teacher for having sex with a minor, you can simply inform the DA & Judge these rules shouldn’t be in place and you don’t think it should be illegal to have sex with a minor? I think that’s a great idea! Neither of you are attorneys and I’m sure you both have some minor related offense! As with any school or University, I’m sure they have an ethics policy and if you are an instructor, you must have done formal education! Duh. Ignorance is no excuse to break the law! The only difference is, a College Professor would be fired and not arrested! You want to be attorneys can argue this all day long and go around and around and play the victim! It won’t get you anywhere and if you have any hope of getting off the registry, don’t go in the court room with that victim attitude! I’ve been off the registry for over 18 months, took accountability and used the law in my advantage! I won’t go into details. Now, I just obtained my healthcare license again! Why? I stopped playing the victim, took accountability and used my brains. Your victim mentality won’t work! I don’t agree with the registry, but if this where a man booing a teen, people would be ripping him. If he said, I didn’t know? Really. I recommend focusing on your future. Neither of you make sense! I used one loophole to get my COR! What about you?

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