By Doug Ireland
---- — DERRY — After Town Administrator John Anderson was charged yesterday with indecent exposure and lewdness following a police investigation, town councilors had the right to fire him immediately.
Instead, they decided to keep him on paid leave until they have a chance to question him themselves.
Anderson, 50, is charged with making sexual advances toward a DIRECTV salesman who knocked on the door of his Lane Road home about 7:15 p.m. on July 11. A warrant for Anderson’s arrest was issued yesterday afternoon.
Anderson, town administrator since October 2010, did not answer the knock initially but stuck his arm outside and waved the salesman inside, according to a police affidavit.
The salesman, who was making random calls in the neighborhood, was surprised when he stepped inside and saw Anderson without any clothes on, thinking he had just gotten out of the shower.
But Anderson did not get dressed as the salesman continued his pitch with his back turned toward Anderson, the four-page affidavit said.
The salesman said Anderson told him it was a “nudist home.”
Anderson invited the salesman to take off his own clothes and to return later for a party. He also asked the man if he were gay, the affidavit said. Then he began to masturbate.
The salesman left the home and contacted his supervisor, who came to the scene and called 911 when he saw how upset the salesman was. Anderson ran from the home before police arrived and drove off in a blue Toyota, the affidavit said.
The car was found later that night by police outside Salty Lane Stables down the road, unlocked with the keys inside. Anderson went to the Derry Police Department the next day to pick up the keys, the affidavit said.
The salesman later identified Anderson from a police photo lineup.
Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said Anderson’s attorney, whose name was not available, was talking with authorities about having the town administrator turn himself in to police in response to the arrest warrant. Anderson would then face arraignment in Circuit Court.
The indecent exposure and lewdness charges against Anderson are misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in jail, Reams said. State police have handled the investigation instead of Derry police to avoid any possible conflict of interest.
Anderson, who was not present for the council’s meeting yesterday, has been on paid suspension since July 12 after the town learned of the allegations against its leader. He did not answer the door to his home yesterday.
When the charges against Anderson were announced early yesterday afternoon, the Town Council immediately scheduled an emergency meeting for 4 p.m. at Town Hall.
The council met in secret session for nearly 90 minutes, then voted unanimously to conduct its own inquiry of Anderson. The council also voted unanimously to continue Anderson’s paid suspension until the inquiry is complete.
When the council suspended Anderson on July 12, it also voted to name Larry Budreau, the town’s human resources director and assistant town administrator, as acting town administrator. Councilors also agreed he would be the only person to comment on the matter.
Those conditions remain in effect, council Chairman Michael Fairbanks said yesterday. His colleagues declined to comment yesterday as they left the council chambers.
“We really can’t say anything,” Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores said.
Budreau said after the meeting that the council wanted the chance to learn more about the charges against Anderson and to question him in person in nonpublic session, though Anderson has the right to request a public meeting.
He said he expects the inquiry will be done within the next week and another emergency meeting scheduled.
Budreau confirmed that Anderson could have been fired yesterday.
“The inquiry will be expeditious,” Budreau said. “The council wants to provide the opportunity to learn a little more and invite Mr. Anderson to participate if he chooses. ... They will decide what, if any, action to take.”
Anderson, whose three-year contract was up for renewal this fall, earns $124,962 a year. He was chosen from among 121 candidates for the job in October 2010 after serving as town manager in Boothbay, Maine, for 10 years.