No Criminal Charges for Police Chief Who Asked Teenage Girl to Pose for Nude Photos
New Hampshire state prosecutors will not file criminal charges against a local police chief who asked a college student to pose for nude photos in exchange for dropping charges against her for underage drinking.
In 2013, New London Police Chief David Seastrand arrested Janelle Westfall, who was 18 at the time, while she was walking home from a party. He charged her for possession of a beer can and for providing a false name.
Four days after the arrest, Seastrand reportedly summoned Westfall to the police station. When she arrived, Seastrand told her that they would go into the building’s basement, where he would use the station’s camera to take nude pictures of her and then hold onto the photos for two years to make sure she didn’t commit another crime, Westfall told the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Instead, Westfall said she left the police station and called friends and family. Her aunt and uncle, who are both police officers, instructed her to write down everything she remembered about the encounter. Her father called the state police.
Westfall eventually won a $70,000 civil suit against the city. Seastrand resigned a month after the incident, after serving as a police officer for 27 years, and is prohibited from ever working in law enforcement again.
State prosecutors, however, declined to file criminal charges against Seastrand. They told the Union Leader that the police chief’s actions represented “abhorrent behavior and unacceptable behavior for anyone in that type of a position.” But they explained that state laws only allowed them to charge Seastrand with a misdemeanor for abusing the power of his position.
Westfall said she hoped New Hampshire legislators would update state laws to make it easier to prosecute police who abuse their authority and increase the penalty to more than a misdemeanor. She also recommended that all police be required to wear body cameras while on duty.
Westfall told the Union Leader she feels uncomfortable in her hometown since her experience was made public. She has not returned to college, where she planned to major in early childhood education. “I'm sad and scared to drive through [New London], that there are going to be people who know who I am and think I'm a bad person,” she said.