Graphic details emerge in 1st trial of ex-Belknap County official accused of raping inmates
MANCHESTER — A trial for former Belknap County sheriff's officer Ernest Blanchette began Wednesday, after he allegedly used his position of power to coerce inmates into having sex with him on several occasions.
Although a particular inmate said she consented to sex, she said she knew Blanchette was forcing her to do something wrong.
"There can be no clear consent of a victim when you're in the custody of someone," Hillsborough County Attorney Nicole Schultz-Price said.
The prosecution made their position very clear, in that Blanchette held a position of power over the women he transported, and used it to give one victim special privileges for sex.
"He gives her a cell phone, he gives her cigarettes and she gives him sex," Schultz-Price said.
The victim, who is still incarcerated, described having multiple sexual encounters with Blanchette, some graphic in nature.
"I started undoing his pants," the victim said crying. "I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what he would expect me to do because I know it’s not supposed to happen because he is a sheriff."
The defense - not buying it, said the victim tricked Blanchette into having intercourse.
"This is a very street smart individual that knew what she was doing," Defense Attorney Brad Davis said.
The defense read aloud letters from the victim writing to friends that said, "I’m looking at it as a big “explicative” you to the state. Bad on his part good on mine in all ways."
The victim told the court, "As a sheriff, he has like control over me. He could, he could put me, could keep me in jail longer if he wanted to. I mean he’s very intimidating. He’s a cop."
The charges of aggravated felonious assault that Blanchette is facing in Hillsborough County, is said to have happened in an abandoned home in Bedford. Later this year he will face more sexual assault charges in Belknap County, for other sexual accusations.