After Sexual Assault and Confession by East Lyme Politician, an Endorsement but No Prosecution


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EAST LYME — Despite a police report detailing a 2020 sexual assault, and a signed confession, a local Democratic politician was not prosecuted for the crimes sexual assault, unlawful restraint and breach of peace, and was later endorsed by the East Lyme Democratic Town Committee in his 2021 run for Board of Selectmen.

Terence Donovan, who is currently a member of the Zoning Commission, confessed to police that he committed sexual assault in October 2020 in a parking lot behind the Niantic Cinema after an evening of drinking with friends and the victim, according to a police report dated Nov. 1, 2021 – approximately a year after the incident.

The incident

According to the report, after police telephoned him on Oct. 30, 2021, Donovan stated he knew why they wanted to speak with him and agreed to meet at the East Lyme Police Station to discuss the incident. 

“Prior to my asking Donovan any questions pertaining to this case, Donovan immediately stated that he ‘fucked up’ by putting his hand down the victim’s pants. Donovan verbally told me what happened and then agreed to provide me with a signed, sworn statement,” stated the report from the investigating officer.

According to the victim, Donovan followed him to his car and propositioned him while forcibly grabbing and groping his genitalia. In response, the victim said he froze and “became scared for his life.” The incident continued for an undetermined period of time, despite requests by the victim for it to stop. 

The victim explained to police, according to the report, that a year later a political sign with Donovan’s name on it “triggered a flashback of the traumatic experience.” The victim called Donovan to ask him to step down from the race, and when he refused, the victim decided to press charges “so that one one else would have to suffer the same trauma that he had experienced first hand with Donovan.” 

In response to questions by CT Examiner asking East Lyme Democratic Committee Chair Jason Deeble to explain when the committee first became aware of the allegations and confession, and whether the party would continue to support Donovan’s membership on the town committee and boards, Deeble declined to comment. 

According to the police report, the victim stated he did not report the 2020 incident to police immediately after it happened “because he was too embarrassed.”

Declining to prosecute

On Nov. 2, 2021, the investigating officer emailed Inspector Michael Hurley from the Office of the State’s Attorney a copy of the arrest warrant affidavit for the crimes of sexual assault in the third degree, unlawful restraint in the second degree and breach of peace in the second degree. 

Two days later, Hurley advised the officer by telephone “that the Office of the State’s Attorney would not be signing the arrest warrant affidavit for Donovan because they would not be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Asked by CT Examiner to explain that decision, the New London State’s Attorney’s Office replied in a statement:

“Although it would be inappropriate for the New London State’s Attorney’s Office to comment on the decision-making process of any particular case, it is important to note that in every case, there are factual considerations and ethical obligations which may affect the state’s ability to ultimately prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and thus militate against pursuing criminal charges.”

Reached by phone, Donovan declined to comment, asking instead how CT Examiner had obtained the information and his telephone number.