Jul 27, 2016 6:36 PM

Former police chief connected to NH cold case pleas not guilty to sexual assault charges

KEENE - The only person ever arrested in connection with a cold case that started in 1978 appeared in court on Wednesday and plead not guilty to seven felonious sexual assault charges.

Court documents show 64-year-old Robert Chambers is accused of sexually assaulting a minor several times between 1994 and 2000. He appeared in Cheshire County Superior Court to face the charges and enter not guilty pleas.

"He was indicted Monday by the Cheshire Grand Jury and he was arrested yesterday without incident," Assistant Cheshire County Attorney Keith Clouatre said after the arraignment.

Prosecutors said Chambers' alleged victim was a witness in another, ongoing investigation when she came forward with the sexual assault allegations. However, they would not say if that investigation was the one regarding the disappearance and murder of Russell Bean.

Bean disappeared in 1978 and was never seen again. That is, until Chambers' father, on his deathbed ten years later, said Bean's remains were buried on the property he shared with his son. Bean's remains were found after three days of digging, and a medical examiner determined his cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Chambers was arrested, but the grand jury dismissed the case. No one has been arrested since, and the investigation remains cold.

"I can't talk about any of the other investigations," Clouatre said. "They are completely unrelated. Any of that should be referred to either the AG's office or Major Crime."

Prosecutors on Wednesday did say the Chambers knew the victim, as they lived in the same house at the time of the alleged assaults. At that time, the victim was approximately between 9 and 16 years old.

In court, Chambers' defense called the sexual assault charges "historic," and expressed concern over his health as the court considered his bail conditions.

While prosecutors recommended $50,000 cash bail, they would agree to his release with electronic monitoring, placing him on house arrest.

"He does have some serious medical issues. He just completed treatment for cancer, he also has medications that he needs to take for his heart, he has diabetes, and he also has sleep apnea," said defense attorney Meredith Lugo to the court.

Lugo also argued Chambers is not a risk of fleeing because he knew about the assault allegations during the investigation. He's lived in the same Swanzey home with his wife since 1993.

"He certainly understand the need to and wants to face these charges," Lugo added. "He does plead guilty."

The judge released Chambers back to Cheshire County House of Corrections for authorities there to determine if he's eligible for electronic monitoring.

If he is not, Chambers will return to court in the next few days for a bail hearing.

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