Man acquitted of sex assault back in court

BRENTWOOD – When a Superior Court jury acquitted former Brookline resident Johnathon Purcell last November on all four felony sexual assault charges, indications were that prosecutors were nevertheless growing increasingly confident they would see him back in court sitting at the defense table in the near future.

For not long after Purcell shook hands with his attorneys and walked out of Hillsborough County Superior Court-South a free man, police and prosecutors had in hand an arrest warrant for the now 34-year-old Purcell, charging him with five new counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault.

On April 22, about six months after Purcell was acquitted, law enforcement personnel at the U.S.-Canada border crossing in Vermont informed local police they had arrested Purcell as a fugitive from justice, and he would be housed in jail until Londonderry police could come to pick him up and return him to New Hampshire.

Londonderry police were now the lead investigators in the case, as Purcell had by then moved from Brookline to 73 Hall Road in Londonderry.

Upon his return, Purcell was housed on $100,000 bail, but it is not clear if that bail order still stands or has been amended.

The next big step in the case came Tuesday, when the grand jury for the September term of Rockingham County Superior Court handed up 11 indictments against Purcell, all stemming from allegations he sexually assaulted a girl known to him during the course of roughly four years, when the girl was in the age range of 12-16.

The indictments list various sexual acts Purcell allegedly performed on the girl, while four of them accuse him of engaging in a pattern of sexual assault against the girl during that four-year time frame.

Upon Purcell’s late-April arrest at the border, Londonderry police Capt. Patrick Cheetham told news outlets Purcell allegedly fled to Canada around the time police began looking into new sexual assault allegations that had been reported about 10 days before Purcell was arrested.

As for the indictments handed up Tuesday, they indicate the most recent alleged assault took place on April 10, which would have been about a week before police received reports accusing Purcell of sexual assault.

While the allegations in all 11 indictments involve the same alleged victim, it is not clear if she was also the victim in the case that went to trial and ended in Purcell’s acquittal last year.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_DeanS.