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March 12, 2014

State claims against Reams are many

Sexual harassment, ethical lapses, among complaints

The state wants suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams out of office, now and forever.

Attorney General Joseph Foster and the Rockingham County Commission outlined their reasons for seeking Reams’s removal in a 25-page complaint filed yesterday in Merrimack Superior Court.

Reams is accused of sexual harassment, misappropriation of funds, ethical lapses, gender discrimination, misleading county commissioners and creating a hostile work environment.

Reams, 66, has been suspended since Nov. 6, the beginning of a joint state and federal investigation. Reams, who was first elected in 1998, continues to receive his $85,000 annual salary.

He has been fighting to get his job back since he was suspended. Late last year, he threatened to sue the three-member County Commission for barring him from accessing his office in the county courthouse in Brentwood.

A hearing on his request for reinstatement originally was scheduled for yesterday, but delayed until April 7 following the death of his mother in late February.

Reams’s attorney Michael Ramsdell said yesterday his client denies all allegations and they can now move forward in proving his innocence.

“Jim is glad that the allegations have been made public so he can have the opportunity to discover the source of the allegations. ... He has waited for this opportunity,” Ramsdell said. “Jim Reams denies sexually harassing anyone.”

Two other members of Reams’s staff — Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid and victim witness advocate Tara Longo also were suspended in November. Longo and Reid both resigned in January. Reid, a 15-year veteran and second in command under Reams, was never accused of any criminal wrongdoing.

The complaint is rife with claims of misconduct against Reams and outlines an alleged pattern of inappropriate conduct that started soon after he took office in early 1999.

Over the course of 14 years, female employees in Reams’s office were subjected to “alleged sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, improper application of the Family Medical Leave Act and retaliation,” the complaint alleges.

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