A former Massachusetts school teacher living in Florida is fighting extradition from that state after he was arrested for allegedly raping a man with a rake and a shovel handle in New Hampshire nearly 20 years ago, police said.
Richard Brunt, 74, was indicted by a New Hampshire grand jury last week and charged with three counts of forcible sexual penetration of another man, as well as two counts of attempted rape, stemming from incidents that occurred between June 1, 1999, and June 1, 2000, Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan told Oxygen.com
Brunt was arrested June 26 in Lakeland, Fla., where he had been living, jail records show. He’s refused to waive extradition to New Hampshire, where the governor has until the end of September to file a governor’s warrant with the governor of Florida to request he be moved up north to stand trial, state police said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear exactly when the incident or incidents occurred, and Hogan declined to go into detail, telling Oxygen.com that more information would be available when the case goes to trial.
“We’ve indicted him, and that’s just about all I can say,” Hogan said Tuesday.
Officials did not release the age or identity of the alleged victim.
Neighbors told the Ledger, a local paper in Lakeland, Fla., that Brunt was a quiet, helpful man who liked to walk his two pet chihuahuas.
“He helped me in my yard,” Glea Devrieze said, according to the Ledger. “This all surprises me.”
Another neighbor, Tina Swakcerd, recalled one quarrel with Brunt, who became angry over her grandson playing in her yard, according to the Ledger. Brunt initially threatened to call police, but later bought the young boy a stuffed animal as an apology, she told the newspaper.
But officials say he was hiding a violent past. Brunt served 10 years in prison in Florida for manslaughter after pleading no contest to charges that he fatally stabbed his roommate after the roommate announced he was moving out, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Brunt’s murky past doesn’t end there. Brunt is also believed to be that last person to see Christopher Bird, a Massachusetts school teacher, alive, according to court records cited the Times. Bird, a friend of Brunt’s, was 25 when he disappeared following a camping trip the pair took together, the Times reported.
At the time of his disappearance, Bird’s wife told investigators that her husband and Brunt had known each other for about seven months, and that they had gone on a camping trip four days prior, the Times reported. His car was found abandoned in Methuen, Mass., and he was never seen again, according to the newspaper.
New Hampshire State Police in 2017 interviewed Brunt about his possible involvement in Bird’s disappearance, and he initially spoke with investigators, but shut down after his son told him to clam up, the Times reported.
He had previously worked as a school teacher and principal in Massachusetts, according to New Hampshire State Police, but it was not immediately clear when, where, or for how long. A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Education said there was no record on file for Brunt, but added that it was possible he had worked at a private school.
Calls to Brunt’s lawyer were not immediately returned Tuesday. He is currently being held without bond at Polk County Jail in Bartow, Fla., as the State of New Hampshire prepares paperwork to have him extradited, according to jail records and New Hampshire State Police.
[Photo: Polk County Sheriff's Office]