New Hampshire state Representative Eric Schleien has been charged with sexual assault of a minor, Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway said Friday.
Schleien, 29, of Hudson, N.H., was charged with one misdemeanor count of sexual assault and two misdemeanor counts of simple assault, Conway’s office said in a statement.
Schleien was charged in relation to a July 2016 incident allegedly involving a 16-year-old girl in Portsmouth, N.H., Conway said. Portsmouth police have been investigating the incident since it was reported last year, she said.
Schleien was arrested in April, and he was released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty in district court, she said. The case is now being transferred to Rockingham Superior Court, Conway said.
Schleien, a Republican, has represented Hudson and Pelham in the state’s 37th District in Hillsborough County since 2014 and serves on the House Resources, Recreation, and Development committees. His term ends in December 2018.
New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper issued a statement Friday following Conway’s announcement.
“Anytime one of our members faces charges such as these we take it very seriously,” Jasper said in his release. “The fact that the accusations against Rep. Schleien involve a 16 year old girl is disturbing, to say the least. But we need not rush to judgement until the investigation is concluded and Rep. Schleien has his day in court. Obviously if the charges are proven true, I would expect the representative from Hudson to resign immediately.”
Schleien’s attorney, Seth J. Hipple, issued a statement contesting the charges against Schleien Friday afternoon.
“Mr. Schleien vehemently denies these allegations,” Hipple said. “It is important to note that these charges are misdemeanors and do not allege that there was any sort of violence or threats. Mr. Schleien has pleaded not guilty, is cooperating with the process, and expects to be fully vindicated.”
Schleien did not return a call for comment Friday.Ben Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.