Former deputy sheriff faces new inmate sex charges

AP News
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Posted: Feb 19, 2016 9:28 AM

LACONIA, N.H. (AP) — A former New Hampshire deputy sheriff faces fresh sexual assault charges involving inmates in his custody for transport, according to indictments that allege he coerced his victims into having sex with him or each other.

Former Belknap County deputy Ernest Justin Blanchette was indicted Thursday on counts involving five inmates he allegedly assaulted while transporting them between correctional facilities across the state. He is charged with nine counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and one count of felonious sexual assault.

Blanchette was indicted last year for allegedly assaulting a female inmate in July. He pleaded not guilty in December.

Some of the new charges involve the woman in the initial case, prosecutors said. He is also accused of coercing another woman into having intercourse at a Laconia cemetery.

Bail was set at $100,000 at a hearing Thursday. The Laconia Daily Sun reports (http://bit.ly/1Qq5ICa) Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen asked for a total of $500,000 bail, or $100,000 for each of the five cases.

Guldbrandsen said she believes Blanchette to be a danger to his community and a flight risk.

Blanchette's attorney, Brad Davis, said he and his client were taken by "complete surprise" by the new indictments and argued that Blanchette should be released on the same $5,000 bail posted by his parents for his release on the pervious charge.

Blanchette, formerly of Franklin, was a patrol officer in Laconia before joining the sheriff's department in 2011. He resigned last year.