Litchfield police chief 's arraignment waived

Jan. 12—The lawyer for Litchfield Police Chief Benjamin Sargent, who is charged with sexually harassing a female staff member, waived Sargent's arraignment scheduled for Thursday in the 9th Circuit Court in Merrimack.

Waiving arraignment means a defendant does not have to appear while the charges against him are read in court.

Now the case against Sargent, 43, of Hudson, who is charged with a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,200 but no jail time, proceeds to the discovery phase, in which evidence will be shared with his defense attorney, Eric Wilson of Wilson, Bush & Keefe.

Sargent has been on administrative leave since June. Litchfield town officials have declined to comment.

According to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office, Sargent has been charged with "official oppression," which means he knowingly committed an unauthorized act to benefit himself or harm another, by sexually harassing a subordinate in violation of official policy.

The charges stem from multiple phone calls made to a female staff member on New Year's Eve 2021, including one in which he suggested he had a crush on her and she should come to his house with a bottle of wine and he would share his feelings, according to complaints filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last April and May.