EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

June 19, 2014

Editorial: Reams had become an unwelcome distraction

Whether he chooses to call it a resignation or a retirement, the departure of James Reams from the Rockingham County attorney’s office is welcome news.

Following a suspension, investigation and the attempt by county commissioners to force him from office over allegations of mismanagement of department funds and sexual harassment of female staffers, Reams had become a distraction who was not serving the people of Rockingham County well.

Reams, 66, has been accused of a long list of misdeeds and mismanagement in recent months. In November, he was suspended by county commissioners and his prosecutorial authority was stripped by Attorney General Joseph Foster over allegations he mismanaged county money and sexually harassed female employees. The attorney general’s office accused Reams of having inappropriate contact with women in his office, telling them not to get pregnant and retaliating against those who did. The AG’s office also said Reams would also invite employees to bring their bathing suits to his home to use his hot tub, earning him the nickname “Creepy Jim.”

Reams denied the allegations.

Reams was ordered reinstated to his job by Merrimack Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara in April. But Reams’ problems on the job continued, according to county commissioners.

Reams was accused of removing the name of a former Salem police officer, Eric Lamb, from the state’s Laurie List, a list of law enforcement officers with credibility issues that could jeopardize court cases. Lamb is the husband of Patricia Conway, an assistant county attorney who is one of five candidates running to replace Reams in the September primary.

In the letter to the county commissioners announcing his departure, Reams named Conway acting deputy county attorney and placed her in charge of the office.

“Since Jim has been back, the situation hasn’t gotten any better,” Commissioner Thomas Tombarello said. “We were told he wasn’t there to perform his job. I just felt there were a lot of problems in that office.”

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