July 31st was to be the day veteran Manchester Police Officer William Soucy, 52 of Hooksett, was to be arraigned in Hooksett District Court on a charge of simple assault against his former girlfriend Joni Nunn, 34 of Manchester. Though Soucy waived arraignment and awaits a trial date from the court, controversy continues to swirl around the investigation that led to his arrest, primarily over charges leveled by Manchester Alderman at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur, who, in a very unusual move, has represented himself as the alleged victim’s attorney.
It’s unusual for the victim of a crime to have an attorney as normally they are represented by the state, which is responsible to prosecute criminals on behalf of victims. In statements made publicly, Levasseur says he got involved because the victim came to him complaining that the police were’t responding to her complaint. He’s even gone so far as to claim that had he not threatened a lawsuit, Soucy wouldn’t have been arrested.
Girard at Large received several “tips” on this story and was urged to investigate an alleged coverup attempt by both the Manchester and Hooksett police departments. We did. To underscore the importance of this story and the difference between what happened and the perception of some in the public about what happened, Girard at Large received criticism for an article published on July 28th, in our Weekly Wrap Up news letter from a candidate for alderman who was not amused that we’d released the victim’s publicly available name, restating Levasseur’s claims about her being intimidated by and afraid of the police.
Because the misinformation continues to spread about who did what and when, we now release the findings of our exhaustive investigation.
Among the claims made by Levasseur is that Nunn contacted the Manchester Police Department the day after the April 1st attack. From the official timeline provided by the Manchester Police Department of their involvement in the investigation, that claim appears to be false. You will note that a cousin of Nunn contacts MPD on April 9th and states that Nunn doesn’t want to talk to them. No police agency is aware of the issue for at least a week after it allegedly happened.
Once MPD determined who the alleged assailant was and that the assault occurred in Hooksett, the complaint was forwarded to the Hooksett Police Department for investigation. That was April 11th and Sgt. Janet Bouchard of HPD was assigned to investigate the case. The timeline provided by the Hooksett Police Department at our request corroborates Manchester’s claim. (NB: Timelines were requested from both departments without them knowing it had been requested of the other department. This was done to preclude the possibility of collusion in the development of their timelines. In an interview with Girard at Large, Levasseur requested copies of the timelines we told him were in our possession so he could determine what information he would send us for our story. We declined for obvious reasons and asked him to send whatever information he had to support his assertions. That request was made several weeks ago and we’ve yet to receive any information.)
Levasseur’s claims that the departments weren’t interested in investigating the complaint likewise don’t seem to be supported by either departments’ timeline or emails exchanged between Bouchard and Nunn or Bouchard and Levasseur. In fact, it would appear that the single biggest delay in investigating the case was caused by Levasseur who advised Nunn not to agree to a follow up interview requested by Bouchard. Levasseur confirmed he gave that direction stating they’d already interviewed her and didn’t believe that anything would be gained by another interview.
That instruction stopped the investigation May 14th to June 19th when Nunn, after receiving an email from Bouchard stating the investigation had been suspended and the file would be closed due to Nunn’s failure to respond to her requests for a follow up interview, agreed to meet again. Therefore, more than a third of the time it took for the investigation to draw to a conclusion was a direct result of Levasseur’s interference with law enforcement requests of the alleged victim.
At 2:20 PM on June 14, Levasseur left this voicemail for Hooksett Police Chief Peter Bartlett threatening to go to the media about the case because Sgt. Bouchard didn’t seem interested in filing charges and he believed there was clear evidence of assault. Interestingly, this call was made the day Bouchard sent Nunn an email four hours earlier at 10:31 AM stating that she would not be moving forward with charges because of Nunn’s failure to respond to her requests for a follow up interview, a request Nunn denied on Levasseur’s admitted advice. It seems clear that Levasseur attempted to shift blame to Bouchard for the delays he caused which forced her to close the file for apparent lack of interest from the victim. NOTE: Sgt. Bouchard categorically denies she made the statement alleged in the above voicemail.
There have also been claims that officers of the Manchester Police Department tried to intimidate Nunn by showing up at her apartment in Manchester. Captain Robert Cunha and Sgt. Richard Brennan did visit Nunn’s residence at Noon on April 16th at the request of Sgt. Bouchard who was unable to make phone contact with Nunn. They were sent away by Nunn who refused to speak with them and asked them to leave. At 2:22 that afternoon, Nunn would email Bouchard saying she was unsure she wanted to proceed and that she needed more time to “think and heal” before making a decision. The next day, Bouchard, who allegedly wasn’t interested in investigating the case, notified both Officer Soucy and the Manchester Police Department that she had opened an investigation into the complaint.
At 7:35 on the evening May 1st, Levasseur sent Bouchard an email claiming to represent the legal interests of Nunn and requested to know why she didn’t feel there was enough evidence to prosecute the case. Bouchard acknowledges receipt of his email at 8:06 the next morning stating his information isn’t entirely accurate and she would be happy to discuss the matter, which begs the question as to whether or not Nunn misinformed Levasseur or Levasseur created the misinformation to prompt the department to action he felt was lacking. On May 2nd, after Bouchard spoke with Levasseur, Nunn contacted Bouchard and said she wanted to proceed with charges. Just twelve days later, after multiple attempts to schedule and reschedule the requested interview, Nunn would state Levasseur told her not to do another interview.
Before contacting Bouchard on May 1st, Levasseur contacted Capt. Cunha by email on April 30, saying Nunn had gone to his restaurant to seek his help. In that email, he inquired about why Hooksett was investigating, the status of the internal affairs investigation into Soucy’s actions and provided a timeline of events which, while still not accurate, was much, much closer to what did happen than his public statements on the case. Cunha would only refer Levasseur’s questions about the investigation to the Hooksett department, confirm the internal investigation and ask Levasseur if he’d been retained by Nunn.
While Levasseur claimed his threats to go public were the reason Hooksett changed course and decided to arrest Soucy, the more likely reason is that Bouchard was finally able to interview Nunn on July 2nd and finalize the investigation; an interview that was delayed at that point by six weeks because of Levasseur’s refusal to let Nunn be interviewed.
Chief Bartlett and Manchester Assistant Chief Nick Willard have both expressed concern over the case pending against Soucy. They believe both departments made extraordinary efforts, including arranging domestic violence counseling for Nunn at the YWCA, to investigate the claims and encourage the alleged victim to come forward. They believe that Levasseur’s public pronouncements are not only distortions of the situation, but damaging to the credibility of the victim which jeopardizes the case. His public statements, they say, are not only likely to be used by the defense to undermine the victim, but could very well have a “chilling” affect on whether or not victims will come forward in similar cases.
Whether or not Levasseur continues to “represent the interests” of Joni Nunn remains to be seen now that Soucy has been charged and the case is awaiting trial. What is clear, however, is that Levasseur’s involvement in this case is largely responsible for the very delays he’s publicly complained about.
Levasseur very well may have been approached by Nunn and the inconsistent facts he’s used both publicly and privately very well may have come from Nunn. What we discovered was radically different from the published accusations made in other media outlets, published on their blogs and aired on public television shows. The timelines and emails we obtained from each department without the other knowing corroborate each other and support the statements made by a variety of officials during several interviews.
The following documents are provided for your independent review: 1) Manchester Police Department investigative timeline; 2) Hooksett Police Department investigative timeline; 3) Email communications between Sgt. Bouchard, Joni Nunn and JK Levasseur; 4) Email communications between Capt. Cunha and JK Levasseur.
Your comments are welcomed.