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Former Lakes Region marina employees say their manager sexually exploited them, bragged of ties to Gilford police

West Alton Marina sign says: Tough times never last but tough people do / 3rd gen / 60 years
Jon Decker
/
The Laconia Daily Sun
Four lawsuits allege that the marina's former manager used the business to “groom minors for sexual activity,” and further allegedly “used it to engage in sexual exploitation, including prostituting employees to customers.”

This story was originally produced by the Laconia Daily Sun. NHPR is republishing it in partnership with the Granite State News Collaborative.

Four former employees have filed suit against the West Alton Marina alleging that they were subject to sexual assault and harassment by the facility’s former manager, John Murray, and further alleging that marina’s owners failed to intervene to stop the behavior.

One of the suits alleges that Murray told the plaintiff that it would be useless for him to go to police because he was having sex with the Gilford police chief and another officer and so was “untouchable.”

In addition to Murray, the suits name marina owners Brian Fortier, and Fortier’s sisters, Deidre Tibbetts and Allyson Shea, as defendants.

All four suits allege that Murray used the business to “groom minors for sexual activity,” and further allegedly “used it to engage in sexual exploitation, including prostituting employees to customers.”

Murray and Fortier, who according to the lawsuits are married, have been indicted on separate criminal charges alleging sexual assault on underage teenage male employees at the marina.

The civil suits do not specify the ages of the plaintiffs during the time they worked at the marina. One was a year-round employee. The other three plaintiffs were seasonal employees, according to the suits.

The actual names of the plaintiffs are shielded in public documents filed in connection with the cases. The plaintiffs are named as John Doe, James Doe, Brian Doe, and Adam Doe.

The suits allege that Murray used cash to get employees to provide him with sexual pictures and videos.

This alleged activity, together with Murray’s practice of telling dirty jokes and making remarks containing sexual innuendo created a “work culture at the Marina (that) was such that those who went along with Murray’s conduct received cash bonuses,” but “those who objected or who would not participate in it were ostracized and retaliated against” by being given less desirable work hours and harder jobs to do, according to the suits.

It further alleges that when employees complained about Murray’s behavior to Fortier, and/or Tibbetts, and Shea, they failed to intervene, and actually reproached some of the workers for not being team players.

The John Doe suit was filed last month. The James Doe suit was filed May 3, while the Brian Doe and James Doe were filed last Thursday.

It is the Brian Doe suit that alleges Murray’s sexual liaison with members of law enforcement.

“Multiple times Murray texted Brian Doe that he was engaged in sexual activity with the Gilford police chief,” the suit alleges. “Murray would then comment about his sexual activity with the Gilford police chief and at least one other police officer to brag that he was ‘untouchable’ … because he had the police on his side."

In January, Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee, was placed on paid administrative leave when the state Attorney General’s Office Public Integrity Unit began a criminal investigation into his conduct.”

Bean Burpee resigned from his position on April 13 without explanation. The Gilford selectboard accepted his resignation on April 27.

Michael Garrity, the communications director of the state Attorney General’s office, said Friday that the Bean Burpee investigation is continuing and that he would “provide more information when able.”

No information could be found on how to contact Bean Burpee for comment.

The plaintiffs in all four suits are being represented by attorney John Sherman, who did not return a call for comment on Monday.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.

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