NEFAC Opposes Plan to Keep New Hampshire Victim Compensation Fund Records Secret

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition recently opposed a plan in New Hampshire to make secret all records of settlements between the state and victims of abuse at its former Youth Development Center.

More than 350 individuals have alleged abuse involving 150 staffers at the center from 1963 to 2018.

House Bill 1677 creates a state fund of at least 100 million dollars to compensate victims though it would exempt all records related to the fund’s administration from the Right to Know Law.

Writing on behalf of NEFAC and the Union Leader Corp., attorney Gregory V. Sullivan explained to state representatives that compensating those who were abused at the center is an “admirable goal.”

But “creating a blanket exemption for records pertaining to the administration and settlement of these claims is a drastic and draconian step in the wrong direction,” he wrote on Feb. 20.

The Right to Know Law already allows portions of the records to be redacted to protect certain privacy interests, according to the letter. The proposed exemption “flies in the face” of the public records law and the New Hampshire Constitution, Sullivan wrote.

“An expenditure of one hundred million dollars of taxpayer funds, which could increase in the event of a shortfall, requires full transparency and accountability,” he added. “This bill, to which opposition has already been mounted, cannot be properly administered in secrecy.”

NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. The coalition intervenes in cases involving First Amendment freedoms and the public’s right to know about government. All coalition briefs, advocacy letters and statements can be found here.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Leadership Circle donors include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, WBUR-Boston, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry and Connecticut Public.