A former New Hampshire state representative — who made headlines as the first openly transgender lawmaker elected in the Granite State — was arrested Thursday and accused of distributing sexually explicit images of children.
Derry resident Stacie M. Laughton, 39, was charged with four counts of distribution of child sexual abuse images, Nashua police said in a press release. Laughton’s alleged actions came to light earlier this week, when individuals reported that Laughton had distributed sexually explicit images of children, police said.
Nashua police said Laughton’s case is connected to that of Lindsay Groves, a New Hampshire woman also arrested Thursday for allegedly taking explicit photos of children at the Tyngsborough day care where she worked.
The 38-year-old Hudson, New Hampshire, resident was charged with one count of sexual exploitation of children and one count of distribution of child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said.
Federal prosecutors said in a press release that while working at Creative Minds in Tyngsborough between May 2022 and June 2023, Groves took nude images of children and sent the photos to an unnamed individual with whom she was previously in an intimate relationship.
A preliminary forensic review of Groves’s cellphone allegedly revealed more than 2,500 texts between Groves and the individual, referred to in court documents as “Person 1.” According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Nashua police interviewed two individuals who said Person 1 had mentioned, shown, or forwarded the explicit images to them. Nashua police did not say whether Laughton and Person 1 were one and the same.
Groves is in custody and will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Also facing state charges of possessing child sexual abuse images, she was ordered not to work in child care, access the internet, or have unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18, Boston 25 News reported.
Laughton, meanwhile, is being held and is due for arraignment at the Hillsborough Superior Court-South on Friday, Nashua police said.
She resigned her seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives in December 2022 after she was arrested and accused of stalking and harassment, The New Hampshire Union Leader reported at the time.
Laughton’s legal troubles stretch back to 2008, when she was convicted of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, according to the Union Leader. She had previously won a seat in the New Hampshire Legislature in 2012 but resigned before taking office after the felony conviction came to light, the newspaper reported.
A few years later, Laughton admitted herself to a mental health and addiction treatment facility in Vermont after she was sentenced to a suspended six-month jail term for reporting a bomb threat at a local hospital, according to the Union Leader.
After being elected again in 2020, Laughton was arrested once more in 2021, when she was accused of sending false emergency texts to New Hampshire’s E-911 center, The Nashua Telegraph reported.