Former Town Administrator’s Case Goes to Trial in Derry

Former Town Administrator John Anderson had a parallel life, that of part-time farmer, while he served as Derry’s CEO. He was a regular visitor at his neighbors’ farm, helping to care for 30 to 40 turkeys, 20 to 30 chickens, 32 horses, four dogs and two house cats. “We don’t count the barn cats,” he told the judge and audience at Derry District Court.

Anderson’s trial for two counts of indecent exposure, held Tuesday, Aug. 19, had sex, a mild racial overtone, a dead movie star’s name and even some turkeys and chickens. What it didn’t have was a verdict, as Judge Lucinda Sadler, who heard the case, took the matter under advisement.

Anderson is charged with two counts of indecent exposure after allegations in July 2013 that he exposed himself to a door-to-door DirecTV salesman at his 8 Lane Road home. He was placed on administrative leave July 12, 2013, and terminated his contract with the town Oct. 25 of that year.

Public prosecutor Kirsten Wilson, of the Rockingham County Attorney’s office, presented the case against Anderson and James Rosenberg of the Shaheen and Gordon firm defended Anderson in the five-hour hearing.

Anderson, 51, is alleged to have exposed himself and masturbated in front of DirecTV employee Errol Flynn when Flynn knocked on his door on the evening of July 11, 2013. Flynn alleges that he didn’t get a response and started back down the driveway. When he heard a door opening he turned back, and, Flynn alleges, he saw “an arm” beckoning him inside.

Flynn said he entered the antique Colonial home and heard a voice calling to him from a room to the right of the hallway, where he found Anderson nude. Flynn alleges that he immediately turned his back on Anderson and continued his sales pitch, but became increasingly uncomfortable as Anderson asked him if he were gay and told him it was a nudist household. Flynn allegedly heard a “slapping sound” that grew in volume throughout his pitch, and when he turned to see Anderson masturbating, he decided to leave. He left a flier with his name and phone number, Flynn said, in the event Anderson decided he wanted DirecTV.

Flynn told Wilson he had worked in sales before, but was new to DirecTV. Out of work for five months, he was determined to provide for his wife, four children and three grandchildren. After a training period, the week of July 8-12 was the first week he was on his own, he said, although other salesmen were in the neighborhood and one was working the other side of the street.

Flynn said he had lived in New Hampshire for 10 years.

On the witness stand, Flynn testified to being embarrassed, uncomfortable and traumatized by Anderson’s alleged conduct. He earns his DirecTV pay by commission, he said, and when he saw the arm beckoning him, he figured he had a chance at one more sale to close out the evening. When he saw that Anderson was naked, he said, he “assumed he just got out of the shower.”

Flynn said Anderson “kept interrupting me” and that Anderson’s line of questioning was “weird.”

“I was getting apprehensive,” he said.  But because he thought he’d gotten Anderson out of the shower, “I also believed he must really want DirecTV.”

Flynn recalled asking Anderson how many televisions he owned and being told, “This is a nudist household.” Flynn, who admitted to being sarcastic, responded, “Nobody’s nude here but you.” He asked again about the TVs, and said Anderson asked him if he were gay.

He said that because he is an African-American man, he left the flier with his name and phone number so Anderson could call him if he wanted the service, and to prove he’d been there under legitimate purposes.

“I said, ‘I’ve got other calls to make, but I’ll be in the area,”” Flynn recalled. And Anderson allegedly told him, “We’re having a party later.”

He headed toward the next house, but said he was too shaken up to make the call and returned to the street in front of Anderson’s house.

“I was angry, in shock,” Flynn recalled. As a black man working in mostly white Derry, “I had no idea how to respond,” he said. He texted and then called his supervisor. The text read, “What do I do when I’m pitching and a customer masturbates while I’m pitching? I’m traumatized.”

The supervisor and other Direct TV salespeople were at the Anderson home in minutes, Flynn said.

Flynn said, “I’m 41 years old, I’ve been in the Armed Services and I’ve lived in three major cities, and I have never experienced anything like that. It’s the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever had in my life.” If he were not at work, he said, he might have become violent. But he was also keenly aware of being an African-American in a small New Hampshire town, and he didn’t want trouble.

His supervisor called Derry Police, and as they watched, they saw a car leave the Anderson residence. Flynn said Anderson was “half-dressed” and driving very fast.

Rosenberg cross-examined Flynn and pointed out discrepancies in his testimony.  In his first report, to Police Officer Mike Moulton, Flynn said the door was opened by a naked man, and in his report to the State Police July 15, 2013, he said the arm waved him in and that he learned that Anderson was nude after he went inside.

Rosenberg also pointed out to Flynn, “You never told Mr. Anderson to put his clothes on, never said ‘Stop,’ never said ‘maybe there’s a better time.’”

And Rosenberg said if Flynn took the time to fill out his name on the Direct TV flyer, he wasn’t all that traumatized.

   Anderson’s Testimony

Anderson’s version of the evening was markedly different.

He said he has been married to Catherine Sherrill, now of Maine, for 22 years.  Though he came out as a gay man 12 years ago, they remain married and are “best friends,” jointly owning the Lane Road home and the home in Maine where she resides.

Anderson had been having health problems, and woke on July 3 with a “charley horse” in his leg, he stated. He obtained 600 mg of Ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer from his doctor, and took them religiously up to July 11. The medication made him tired, he said, and during that week he went into the Town Office late and stayed till his regular leaving time of 6 or 6:30 p.m. His normal routine, he said, was to come home, watch the national news, nap and go to his neighbors’ home for supper.

The neighbors, Kathleen Gallagher and her partner, Andy Giovanni, own Salty Lane Stables, and Anderson assisted with chores, he said, including taking out their trash and recyclables, checking on up to 32 horses, caring for the domestic animals, and watering Gallagher’s plants when she was away.  She and Giovanni were away July 11 at a horse show, Anderson said. He said he had full access to all their property, and frequently went over on his own to watch their cable channels.

And that was where he went when he left his own home after Flynn’s visit, Anderson said: it was Thursday, and he had to take out the trash.

But first he’d come home and stripped to his underwear in the hot weather. He had poured a glass of water and settled in on a sofa to watch the national news and fallen asleep. When he woke up he knocked over the water with his arm, and used his underwear to mop it up, and thus was naked when he answered the door.

It is here the accounts diverge. Anderson said he was definitely in view when Flynn walked back up the driveway. “It’s a full glass door,” he pointed out. And, with Flynn aware of his nakedness, Anderson assumed “that he was interested in pursuing something more than DirecTV.”

He ushered Flynn into a living room, Anderson said, “and he sat on the chair and I sat on the couch.”

“Did he avert his gaze?” Rosenberg asked.

“He never looked away,” Anderson replied. When he asked Flynn if he wanted to get naked too, Flynn said, “I can’t, I’m working,” according to Anderson, and Anderson took this as an interest in something sexual.

 Anderson denied masturbating and said he could not get an erection while on the muscle relaxer.

“He knew I wasn’t interested in Direct TV, and we talked about a bunch of other things,” Anderson said. When Flynn left the flier with his contact information, Anderson assumed he might be interested in a possible relationship, he said.

“Do you have any reason to suspect he was uncomfortable?” Rosenberg asked.

“Absolutely not,” Anderson replied.

Anderson said he realized how late it was getting and still had to do the chores. He dressed in shorts and a tank top and headed to the Gallagher farm. At the end of his driveway he saw the eight to 10 DirecTV people, and said, “I didn’t want a confrontation.” He went to the farm, did the chores, and then, with his leg aching, took a package of frozen peas from Gallagher’s freezer, put it on the leg, and settled into a recliner. He soon fell asleep, and said he didn’t hear the efforts of several police to contact him and enter the house.

“At 11:45 I woke up,” he said. “My car was locked, so I took one of their pickups and went down to my house for my spare key, drove back to the farm, and drove my own car home.”

After six text messages from Gallagher and Giovanni, urging him to call the police, Anderson did so. He was told to call Det. Ed Budroe in the morning, but Lt. John Breen called him back and told him the matter was being handled by the State Police.


Wilson and Rosenberg poked holes in each others’ arguments. Wilson said it was a stretch to believe that spilling a 12-ounce glass of water would soak Anderson so thoroughly that he would have to mop it up with his underwear. She also questioned why, when he saw six to 10 people on the edge of his property, he did not call the police.

“I had to get the chores done,” Anderson said.

Wilson also played a CD of Anderson’s initial conversation with the Derry Police Department, in which he told them, “Everything’s all right at the farm.” He also said he was out to dinner with friends, and she pointed out that was not true.

Rosenberg pointed to the discrepancies in Flynn’s accounts, from the initial report to Moulton to the State Police account.

He also returned to the argument that Flynn couldn’t have been too upset if he’d left his phone number.

Rosenberg said nobody was to blame. “The ultimate touchstone,” he said, “is that Mr. Flynn remained in the house, and gave the impression he was interested in something other than DirecTV.” He urged that Anderson be found not guilty.

Rosenberg warned that if Anderson were found guilty, it could mean adults who chose to be naked in their homes could be prosecuted.

Wilson said Anderson’s story “doesn’t make sense,” including the spilled water.

And to assume that “he didn’t say no, so it must be okay” is “offensive,” Wilson said.  She urged that Anderson be found guilty.

Sadler said she would take the matter under advisement and issue a ruling later this month.

Witnesses included Gallagher, Moulton, State Police Sgt. John Mullen, and Derry Police Capt. Vern Thomas.