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Did Eric Spofford file a lawsuit against NHPR? (Update 2024)

Eric Spofford
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Eric Spofford, the former owner of a Granite Recovery Center, has initiated a lawsuit against New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR), along with its news director and two reporters, in response to allegations leveled against him.
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Eric Spofford, the former owner of a Granite Recovery Center, has initiated a lawsuit against New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR), along with its news director and two reporters, in response to allegations leveled against him.

The legal action, filed in Rockingham Superior Court, asserts that NHPR’s reporting amounted to an unjust character assassination. Spofford’s legal team contends that he has never committed any acts of sexual assault, and no law enforcement agency, other than NHPR, has ever made such accusations.

While the lawsuit does not specify a monetary amount, Spofford seeks compensation for the damage inflicted on his personal and professional reputation, as well as emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, and pain and suffering. Spofford is recognized as the founder and previous proprietor of Granite Recovery Centers, a facility acquired by BayMark Health in a significant nine-figure deal nearly a year ago.

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28/11/2023 Update
As of now, Eric Spofford has not responded, nor has he apologized for his misdeeds. He has ignored our efforts to highlight the problems faced by his victims. Furthermore, he has only focused on propagating his fake PR.

NHPR maintained that their coverage in March 2022 stemmed from a year-long investigative effort conducted by senior reporters Lauren Chooljian and Jason Moon. The lawsuit names these journalists, in addition to news director Dan Barrick. NHPR responded to the legal action by affirming their commitment to their reporting and their intention to vigorously defend their journalistic integrity.

Eric Spofford’s legal team has raised various concerns about NHPR’s reporting, including the headline of the article and the utilization of anonymous sources. NHPR interviewed one alleged victim who expressed fears of retaliation if her identity was disclosed; she claimed to have received explicit messages from Spofford after departing one of his treatment centers in 2017. Another alleged victim, referred to as “Employee A,” was identified, while a third individual, “Employee B,” had her story conveyed through the accounts of three other employees.

According to NHPR’s report, over a dozen former employees of Granite Recovery Center stated that they were aware for years of Spofford’s alleged inappropriate behavior towards female staff members. Reporters also asserted that they had interviewed nearly 50 former clients, current and past employees, and various individuals within New Hampshire’s recovery community.

Eric Spofford

Central to the reporting is Piers Kaniuka, a longtime friend of Spofford, his recovery sponsor, and the former director of spiritual life at Granite Recovery Center. Kaniuka is quoted as having stated that Eric Spofford should be ostracized, shamed, and potentially prosecuted. However, the lawsuit contends that Kaniuka retracted his statement after its publication, declaring it to be inaccurate and devoid of personal knowledge.

Spofford alleges that NHPR’s reporting has had detrimental effects on his reputation within the substance use disorder recovery industry. He maintains that financial institutions have declined to engage in business dealings with him, vendors have terminated their partnerships with his investment firm, and his involvement with New Hampshire politicians has been strained.

This marks a stark contrast to his prior invitations to testify before a U.S. Senate committee on the opioid epidemic, given his publicized struggles with addiction and subsequent recovery, as well as his establishment of New Hampshire’s largest addiction treatment network during the height of the opioid crisis.

Lewd Photos, Sex Assault, and Other Controversies of Eric Spofford

New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) is receiving support in the lawsuit filed by Eric Spofford, the founder of Granite Recovery. The New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is leading a coalition of news outlets in signing amicus briefs in favor of NHPR.

However, this show of support for the left-leaning media outlet coincides with doubts raised about significant evidence used in the story, as indicated in court records.

Spofford is suing NHPR, alleging defamation over a series of stories that accuse him of sexually harassing women at the addiction recovery centers he established. One crucial element of the story involves an alleged victim’s claim that Spofford sent explicit messages and a lewd photo. Spofford has recently claimed that NHPR reporter Lauren Chooljian never saw this alleged photo before reporting its existence.

The New Hampshire ACLU, in collaboration with other organizations like the New England First Amendment Coalition, the Union Leader, the Keene Sentinel, the Caledonian Record, and the Laconia Daily Sun, submitted a brief in Rockingham Superior Court to support NHPR. Interestingly, these outlets and civil rights groups have received limited media attention, with even the typically PR-savvy ACLU refraining from announcing its involvement through a press release on its website.

The ACLU’s amicus filing coincided with Spofford’s legal team questioning the credibility of NHPR’s reporting foundation. Spofford’s attorney, Michael Strauss, asserted in a court motion that a key witness used by Chooljian was Spofford’s ex-partner, Amy Anagnost, who may have had her own agenda.

According to Strauss, Anagnost may have tried to defame Spofford to gain an advantage in family court hearings concerning shared custody of their child.

NHPR has denied that Anagnost was one of the sources for its reporting.

Spofford, known for his involvement with Granite Recovery Centers, held a politically connected profile. As these drug abuse recovery centers grew to become the largest in New Hampshire, Spofford even provided counsel to Governor Chris Sununu on addressing the state’s opioid epidemic.

Last year, Spofford sold Granite Recovery Centers to BayMark Health Services, a Texas-based treatment company, with the sale price undisclosed.

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Eric Spofford and the Controversy Surrounding Granite Recovery Centers:

Eric Spofford, the prominent figure behind Granite Recovery Centers, had established himself as a central figure in New Hampshire. Renowned for his Congressional testimonies and advisory role to Governor Chris Sununu concerning the opioid epidemic, he had crafted a personal brand with over a million social media followers. Part of his narrative involved sharing stories of his past struggles with drug abuse.

NHPR initiated its coverage of Mr. Spofford’s activities in 2020 when reporter Ms. Chooljian investigated a COVID-19 outbreak at one of the Granite Recovery facilities. During this time, a tip about sexual abuse allegations involving Mr. Spofford came to light. Over the following 15 months, Ms. Chooljian conducted interviews with numerous current and former employees and patients of Granite Recovery. Eric Spofford sold his company in late 2021 for an estimated $115 million.

In February 2022, Ms. Chooljian presented her findings to Spofford. His attorney at the time, Mitchell Schuster, vehemently denied any allegations of misconduct on his client’s part. Mr. Schuster accused Ms. Chooljian of engaging in “disingenuous reporting and malicious conduct” and contacted Ms. Chooljian’s editor, Daniel Barrick, to voice his grievances.

On March 22, NHPR published the investigation that is currently the focal point of Mr. Spofford’s libel lawsuit. The report featured a former Granite Recovery patient recounting inappropriate chat messages from Mr. Spofford, a former employee alleging sexual assault by him, and Piers Kaniuka, Granite Recovery’s former director of spiritual life, disclosing his resignation in 2020 following an employee’s claim of sexual assault by Mr. Spofford.

The day after the exposé was released, Mr. Spofford’s legal team sent letters to individuals who had been interviewed by Ms. Chooljian, cautioning them about an impending lawsuit and instructing them to preserve all relevant written communications and materials.

Several weeks later, on April 24, while Ms. Chooljian and her husband were in Colorado, they received disconcerting news. A text from Ms. Chooljian’s mother informed them that someone had thrown a rock through her parents’ window and spray-painted a vulgar word on their garage door in red paint.

Alarmed by this incident, Ms. Chooljian contacted her editor, Mr. Barrick, who had recently received a call from Mr. Spofford’s attorney. To her astonishment, Mr. Barrick revealed that the same offensive word had been spray-painted on his house as well.

image 41

The following day, Ms. Chooljian discovered that a house she and her husband had previously lived in had also been vandalized.

In light of these unsettling events, Ms. Chooljian’s parents expressed concerns, urging both her and Mr. Barrick to reconsider their investigation into Mr. Spofford. “Perhaps this is not a prudent course of action,” her father, Barry Chooljian, reflected.

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Where is Eric Spofford Now?

Eric Spofford, the individual who established Granite Recovery Centers in Salem in 2008, embarked on this endeavor merely two years after his own recovery from opioid addiction. His journey commenced with a modest sober living home in Derry, where he resided alongside 11 fellow individuals.

Fast forward 13 years, and Eric Spofford made the decision to part ways with Granite Recovery Centers, selling the company he had nurtured and grown.

In addition to this significant change, Spofford has his sights set on a new venture, namely, the launch of “Premier Transportation Group.” This innovative business aims to provide vehicles and training services tailored for Uber drivers in the southern region of New Hampshire. Spofford recently acquired the first vehicle for this burgeoning fleet and anticipates commencing operations in January.

Eric Spofford

Conclusion

Eric Spofford is suing NHPR, claiming that their reporting led to character assassination and denying allegations of sexual assault. He wants compensation for harm to his reputation and emotional distress. NHPR plans to defend its journalism. NHPR maintains its commitment to its reporting and intends to vigorously defend its journalistic integrity.

Did Eric Spofford file a lawsuit against NHPR? (Update 2024)
Did Eric Spofford file a lawsuit against NHPR? (Update 2024)

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