NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 12, 2013

Plaistow detective indicted on assault, threatening charges

Indictments claim he pulled knife, groped woman

By Doug Ireland
staff writer

---- — PLAISTOW — A longtime Plaistow police detective is on unpaid administrative leave after he was indicted this week on simple assault and criminal threatening charges.

George Wickson, 40, of Plaistow faces five charges in connection with an off-duty incident May 25 in Newton when he threatened a man with a knife and grabbed a woman by her buttocks and hair, according to the indictments.

Wickson also tried to kiss the same woman and threw a beer at another woman, the indictments said.

The indictments on three simple assault and two criminal threatening charges were handed up by a grand jury in Rockingham Superior Court. Wickson is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on Oct. 24 and has not been arrested.

The police department issued a brief statement about Wickson’s case, saying it was conducting an internal investigation and that an indictment is not a finding of guilt. The case is being investigated by New Hampshire State Police.

Plaistow police officials declined to comment and referred all questions to the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office, which is also handling the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance could not be reached yesterday for comment.

But Plaistow Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said the allegations against Wickson are disturbing.

He said Wickson is a 13-year member of the department with a clean record.

“It is very, very troubling,” Fitzgerald said yesterday. “The town of Plaistow takes these charges very seriously, but I just want to remind people that an indictment is not a finding of guilty.”

Fitzgerald said Wickson is a valued member of the police force with a strong track record, but that does not excuse any misconduct.

“He has been involved in some very commendable examples of police work,” he said.

Fitzgerald said Wickson was immediately placed on paid administrative leave when he learned of the allegations against the detective in late June.

Wickson was then placed on unpaid leave earlier this week when Fitzgerald was informed of the indictments.

“Inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated within the Plaistow Police Department,” Fitzgerald said. “An officer’s conduct, both on and off duty, will be held to the highest standard.”

Fitzgerald would not comment on the specific allegations nor say whether the incidents occurred at a social gathering. The indictments also do not say at what type of event they took place.

Wickson allegedly pointed a knife at a 22-year-old man’s neck and said, “Shut up or I’ll slice you,” an indictment said.

If convicted on the felony criminal threatening charge, Wickson faces three and a half to seven years in prison and a $4,000 fine.

He also groped a 21-year-old woman and grabbed her hair, indictments said. In addition, Wickson placed his arm around the woman and tried to kiss her, an indictment said.

Wickson faces two misdemeanor simple assault charges and an attempted simple assault charge in connection with that incident. Each count is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Another indictment states Wickson threw a beer at a 30-year-old woman and lunged at the woman as if he were going to hit her. If convicted on the attempted simple assault charge, he faces up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Neither Wickson nor his attorney, Brian Lavallee, could be reached for comment yesterday.