EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 30, 2013

Derry administrator turns himself in to police

Derry administrator released on personal recognizance

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — DERRY — Nearly two weeks after an arrest warrant was issued, Town Administrator John Anderson has turned himself in on indecent exposure and lewdness charges.

Anderson, 50, surrendered to state police Wednesday night and was released on $2,000 personal recognizance, according to Rockingham County Attorney James Reams. Anderson is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 11 in 10th Circuit Court in Derry.

He has been on administrative leave since July 12, one day after an alleged incident at his Lane Road home involving a DirecTV salesman. The salesman told Derry police Anderson made unwanted sexual advances toward him during a sales call.

Anderson exposed himself to the salesman, asked him to take off his clothes and then masturbated in front of him, according to a police affidavit.

Initially, he was on paid leave, then placed on unpaid leave by the Town Council following a unanimous vote Aug. 20. Anderson has been unavailable for comment.

Assistant Town Administrator Larry Budreau has been serving as acting town administrator in Anderson’s absence. He is the only person authorized by the Town Council to speak about Anderson after the council decided to conduct its own inquiry into the matter.

But Budreau was unavailable yesterday to speak about Anderson’s arrest because he is on vacation. Public Works Director Michael Fowler, who is filling in for Budreau, could not be reached for comment.

Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores agreed to speak about Anderson since Budreau is unavailable for another week.

“The only thing I can say is I’m glad he did it,” she said of Anderson turning himself in. “I don’t know what took him so long — I think that’s a good move.”

Katsakiores said the council can now move forward and decide whether Anderson should remain as Derry’s town administrator, saying the incident and his arrest have been a distraction the town can do without.

“I’m glad that part of it’s over,” she said. “We have to decide whether to keep him or get rid of him — my thought is to get rid of him.”

Town Councilor Mark Osborne would only say Anderson is innocent until proven guilty.

“I believe very strongly in a presumption of innocence until he’s had a fair trial,” Osborne said. “I think it’s a presumption we should extend to him.”

Councilor Neil Weatherbee was steadfast in his refusal to comment.

“I can’t talk about it at all,” he said. “(Budreau) can talk about it when he gets back.”

Councilor Thomas Cardon said he couldn’t comment.

Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks and Councilors Brad Benson and Al Dimmock could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Budreau has said Anderson’s unpaid leave would last until the Town Council finishes its inquiry.

Under the town’s charter, councilors had the option of firing Anderson immediately, he said.

Anderson’s three-year contract ends Oct. 25. If Anderson is fired “for cause” before then, he is entitled to six months of severance pay, according to his contract. “Cause” includes being convicted of a felony and gross negligence in carrying out his employment obligations.

Katsakiores said she expects the council will make its decision before Oct. 25.

Although an arrest warrant was issued Aug. 16, Anderson and his attorney agreed he would turn himself in this week after his attorney returned from vacation.

Reams said earlier Anderson was asked to surrender to avoid the time and cost it would require to extradite him from Maine, where he had said Anderson was staying.

Anderson was the town administrator in Boothbay, Maine, for 10 years before coming to Derry in October 2010. He earns $124,962 a year.

Extraditing Anderson could have taken a few months and cost taxpayers in both states thousands of dollars, Reams said.

He also said suspects are usually only extradited if they face felony charges. The two counts against Anderson are Class A misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in jail.

Reams said he would have sought extradition if Anderson did not turn himself in before Labor Day.