CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – A New Hampshire student is suing his high school after he was lured into an alleged drug deal by a principal from another school posing as a friend.

The deal was set up by Bishop Brady High School Principal Jean Barker on a cell phone she confiscated from one of her students, according to police reports.

She received a text message from Concord High School senior John Huckins, 17, stating “Yo, you need a bag?” according to police reports.

Barker, who suspected Huckins was referring to bags of marijuana, asked for two. Pretending to be the phone’s owner, she arranged, through text messages, to meet outside the back door of her school, and called police.

Huckins sent two messages saying he was reluctant to meet on school property, according to police reports.

He wrote “that’s so sketchy” and “dude, I don’t like that” and suggested waiting until they could meet after school. But the Catholic school principal persisted.

When Huckins showed up on March 6, he was arrested with a quarter ounce of marijuana, police said.

He told police he smoked marijuana to deal with anxiety, according to the police report.

Barker defended her actions to The Concord Monitor. She said Huckins’ willingness to bring drugs onto school property placed her school at risk.

Huckins’ attorney, Mark Howard, disagreed.

“It is a crime in the state of New Hampshire to elicit a drug offense if you are not either a police officer or working under the direction of a police officer,” Howard said.

Barbara Keshen, a New Hampshire Civil Liberties attorney, was less sure.

“If the government entices you to engage in criminal activity that you wouldn’t otherwise engage in, you’re not held accountable for your actions,” Keshen said. “Here it was a private individual who entrapped him. I don’t know if that defense would be eligible.”

Huckins was suspended for 10 days after school officials alleged the deal had started, with his cell phone, on Concord High School property. But when they suspended him for the remainder of the year, Huckins responded by suing the Concord School District, Superintendent Chris Rath and his principal, Gene Connelly.

The lawsuit alleges the school district neglected to provide the written charges against him and inform him he could bring a lawyer to his suspension hearing.

Concord School District attorney John Teague acknowledged that a mistake was made initially, but said the charges were refiled correctly.

“If he has a long-term suspension on his record, that may very well lead to his colleges withdrawing their acceptance letters,” said Howard.

Howard characterized Huckins as a well-liked student with an interest in the arts.

“John is very interested in staying in school and finishing out the school year,” Howard said. “He couldn’t be any more embarrassed or humiliated about this.”

Huckins was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. It is a felony that carries up to seven years in prison.

He had no prior arrest record.

A hearing on the case was held Monday. Huckins is attending classes until the judge reaches a decision.

Messages to Barker were not immediately returned.



On the Net:

http://www.ci.concord.nh.us/police/Press%20Releases/03-06-08-2.pdf

AP-ES-04-17-08 1558EDT


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