New Hampshire Supreme Court Overturns Deputy Sheriff’s Sex Assault Conviction

Ernest Justin Blanchette NBC background

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has reversed the sex assault conviction of a former Belknap County sheriff's deputy involving an inmate he was transporting, saying there wasn't enough evidence to prove he was employed by a correctional institution.

Ernest Justin Blanchette was sentenced to prison on charges he sexually assaulted the female inmate in 2015.

His lawyer, Brad Davis, argued on appeal that part of a state law's definition of a rape through coercion involves the victim being incarcerated in a correctional facility "where the actor is employed." He said the 36-year-old Blanchette should be exempt because he was employed by the county sheriff, not the prison or jail.

The court agreed in a May 15 order, suggesting the Legislature amend the law to clarify its language.

The state has until Thursday for file a motion for reconsideration. Blanchette faces additional charges involving other inmates.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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