AP was alone in reporting widespread allegations of severe abuse going back decades at New Hampshire’s youth detention center. The coverage has led to calls to shut down the facility.
Concord-based reporter Holly Ramer, who has owned the story of abuse allegations at New Hampshire’s state-run youth detention center for more than a year, used source work to break news once again: A lawsuit filed in early 2020 has grown to include 230 men and women who say they were abused as children by 150 staffers over the course of six decades.
The March 1 story, which deputy East news director Joe Danborn called “another sledgehammer installment of what’s growing into a signature body of work,” was based on exclusive interviews with the plaintiffs’ attorney and three victims, who described sickening allegations including broken bones, gang rape and impregnation. Powerful images by Boston photographer Charlie Krupa and video journalist Rodrique Ngowi complemented the piece.
The lead plaintiff said he was not willing to speak to any other media except Holly, citing her previous work and overall sensitive treatment of the topic, including during interviews.
The story landed on front pages, including an above-the-fold placement with large photo in the Portsmouth Herald. A TV station and a non-member newspaper did their own stories based on brief phone interviews with the attorney, but neither included the details of the allegations or interviews with victims. The piece drew strong interest, with some 22,000 pageviews and high reader engagement metrics.
AP’s coverage also prompted three Democratic lawmakers to call on Gov. Chris Sununu to shut down the center.
For this latest example of impactful storytelling that has helped expose a grave scandal at the state’s youth detention center, Ramer, Krupa and Ngowi earn Best of the States honors.