By Ray Carbone
NEWPORT – A local reality TV producer and his wife have lost their fight to win a restraining order and a stalking order of protection against Dave Cahill, the chief of Sunapee police department.
In a decision handed down on Friday, Judge Brian Tucker of the Sullivan County Superior Court here ruled that Joseph and Heather Furlong of Sunapee “presented no instance of unwarranted contact (with the chief) – direct or indirect, real or threatened – that justifies a restraining order.”
The judge recognized the anxiety the couple has had regarding the chief over the last six months, but he said that “the subjective views of the Fulongs are not enough to support issuing the (restraining) order.”
During the hearing held Thursday in the superior court, several witnesses – including the Furlongs – indicated that the chief only had, at most, four incidents in the last 18 months where he’d interacted with either of the Furlongs, and Heather Furlong initiated two.
(The judge also dismissed the request for a stalking order, noting that such actions are taken in the Newport District Court.)
During Thursday’s hearing, it was apparent that the Furlongs were extremely anxious confronting the chief. Heather Furlong, the first witness, broke down in tears not long after she took the stand.
“I’m very concerned about a pattern that Mr. Cahill has demonstrated with myself and my husband,” she told the judge. “(He) has been malicious, which has resulted in substantial pain and suffering for my family.”
Joseph Furlong, who wiped tears from his eyes as his wife wept, said later that he had similar emotional problems. “I can’t sleep at night,” he testified. “(Cahill) is out to get me, to get vengeance… I want protection until I can pack up and move my family out of town.”
‘Heather Furlong, the first witness, broke down in tears not long after she took the stand… Joseph Furlong, who wiped tears from his eyes as his wife wept, said that he had similar emotional problems. “I can’t sleep at night,” he testified.’
Cahill, who has been in law enforcement for 30 years and Sunapee’s chief for the last 15 years, denied that he ever acted in an intimidating or threatening towards the couple. In fact, he testified that he’s had regular friendly small town-type encounters with the Furlongs for some time, particularly since his youngsters are the same age as their children.
Things began changing in 2016 after Joseph Furlong was investigated for allegedly doctoring an email with the apparent goal of swaying the election of a school board seat in his wife’s favor.
Cahill spoke with several people, including Furlong, after learning about the possible election fraud. Furlong was arrested in March 2017 following a yearlong investigation under the supervision of the New Hampshire attorney general’s office. He was charged with six counts related to forgery and making a false statement to the police.
Furlong denied the charges, and indicated that a 36-year-old construction contractor named Adam Gaw from Manchester, who was apparently working on the Furlong house, may have been responsible for the altered email message.
Shortly before Joseph Furlong was scheduled to go on trail last month, the attorney general withdrew the original charges and filed new ones, both related to actions taken during the alleged email doctoring.
A district court judge ruled that the new charges were filed after the statute of limitation had run out. He dismissed all charges against Joseph Furlong. (The AG has filed a request to have the judge reconsider his decision.)
At last week’s court hearing, the Furlongs told Judge Tucker that Cahill had friendly relationships with other residents who are their political opponents, and that the chief also harbors ill will against them because he mishandled the email investigation.
The judge listened to more than three hours of testimony, much of it related to the email investigation and the Furlongs’ reactions to Cahill and other Sunapee residents, but he made it clear that he was focused on the restraining order request.
‘I’m interested in the facts (relating to) whether I should issue an order restraining (Cahill) from seeing you, not the politics,” he told Heather Furlong at one point.
“Whether it was a bad or a good investigation really has noting to do with whether I should issue an order that Chief Cahill should stay away from you,” he said later to Joseph Furlong.
In related news, police report that Adam Gaw has twice taken full responsibility for doctoring the email messages but he recently plead “not guilty” to all related charges in district court. A hearing regarding his case is scheduled for this week.
This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on September 12, 2017.