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The former leader of a youth center in New Hampshire defends their time in charge following damaging testimony during a trial

The Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester (Via Rod Tucker/Shutterstock)

The former head of New Hampshire’s youth detention center is defending himself against accusations that he either encouraged physical abuse or turned a blind eye to it during his nearly 40 years at the facility.

Ron Adams did not testify during the trial where a jury found the state negligent and awarded $38 million to a man who said he was severely mistreated at the Youth Development Center.

However, Adams was frequently mentioned. Former staff members testified that he resisted training or disciplining staff, disregarded whistleblowers, and supported his predecessor’s approach: “If the kids cause trouble, punish them severely.”

Lawyer David Vicinanzo argued that the facility’s leaders fostered a culture of abuse, saying, “The problems start at the top.”

The burned home of Diol family (Via Tom Keenan/Getty Images)

Though some aspects of the verdict are contested, the trial judge stated that based on the evidence, leaders “either knew and didn’t care or chose not to find out the truth” or were “deliberately ignorant” of widespread abuse.

Adams disagrees with these claims. In an interview with The Associated Press, he recalled police being called in for at least three suspected cases of sexual abuse.

“I disciplined several people during my 39 years, 4 months, and 25 days at the center, though not necessarily for sexual abuse,” Adams said. “We didn’t overlook issues.”

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