A man who oversaw staff training and investigations at New Hampshires youth detention center

A man who oversaw staff training and investigations at New Hampshire’s youth detention center testified Monday that top-level administrators sided with staff against residents, while lower-level workers wanted to punish kids for speaking up. Virgil Bossom returned to the witness stand Monday, the fourth day of a civil trial seeking to hold the state accountable for child abuse at the Sununu Youth Services Center, formerly called the Youth Development Center, in Manchester. David Meehan, the plaintiff, argues the state’s negligence in hiring and training led him to be repeatedly beaten, raped and locked in solitary confinement for three years in the late 1990s, while the state argues it is not responsible for the actions of a few “rogue” employees. Eleven former state workers — including those Meehan accuses — are facing criminal charges, and more than 1,100 other former residents have filed lawsuits alleging abuse spanning six decades. That has created an unusual dynamic in which the attorney general’s office is both prosecuting alleged perpetrators and defending the state in the civil cases. Bossom, a training development manager at the facility, described speaking with the facility’s superintendent about his investigation into what Bossom considered a founded complaint. “We talked about it and he said I can not take a kid’s word over a staff’s word,” he said. “That was very upsetting.” An even higher-level administrator who oversaw not just the Manchester facility but a pre-trial facility in Concord held the same view, said Bossom. Other staffers, meanwhile, took disciplinary action against teens if their complaints were later deemed unfounded, he said.