Report rips Boston police handling of Rose case

Faults system for lack of timely internal probe that might have led to officer's termination 

A CITY-COMMISSIONED REPORT into the case involving former Boston police officer Patrick Rose, who was charged with child sexual abuse in the mid 1990s but nonetheless remained on the force for more than two decades, slammed the Boston Police Department for lacking policies and procedures to respond adequately to the case and for failing to take steps to discipline or fire the officer after an internal affairs report sustained the findings against him.

The report, issued today by the city’s new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, concludes that Rose might have been prevented from remaining on the force if recommendations of a 1992 commission had been fully adopted. It also recommends that a discipline “matrix” being developed to handle cases that come before a new Civilian Review Board also be applied to cases handled by the department’s Internal Affairs Division. 

The report, the first major action by the new office, directed by attorney Stephanie Everett, does not provide new facts in the Rose case, but provides context on police department practices in place at the time.

“I think the department had a responsibility to act sooner,” said Acting Mayor Kim Janey at a City Hall briefing. “Certainly transparency should have been the order of the day back in 1995, 1996, and swift action should have been taken. It is shameful that it seems that the actions taken were to protect one of their own rather than to protect children.”

In 1995, police filed a criminal complaint against Rose for child sexual assault on a 12-year-old boy. In May 1996, the charges were dropped when the child recanted his story after facing pressure from Rose, the Globe reported earlier this year.  The police department then carried out its own investigation, which sustained the allegations against Rose, but he apparently received no disciplinary action as a result and remained on the force for more than 20 years until retiring in 1998.

The report said the only recommendation that could be found from a review of Rose’s internal affairs files was “try to settle prior to hearing.”

Rose went on to be elected president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, the largest union representing Boston police officers. 

The new report says the St. Clair Commission, formed following the police department’s disastrous handling of the 1989 murder of Carol Stuart, found that the Internal Affairs Division was not investigating cases if criminal charges against an officer were being pursued. That practice was “a misinterpretation of applicable law,” the St. Clair report said, which delayed interviewing witnesses who may have moved or forgotten details of an incident. The commission provided this information to the department even before issuing its final recommendations in 1992 and had assumed that BPD procedures were changed immediately as a result, according to the report released today.

“It is unclear from the events that followed, at least in the case of Rose, whether that guidance, however, was indeed implemented,” the new OPAT report says.

The report recommends that the Bureau of Professional Standards, which includes the Internal Affairs Division, seek to interview any witnesses within 48 hours of receiving information from a court, supervising officer, “or other credible source” that an officer has been charged a list of offenses, including sexual assault or domestic violence. 

Last summer, Rose was arrested and is now facing 33 charges of child sexual abuse of six minors, aged 7 to 16. 

The report says several measures are now in place or being implemented that would address issues raised by the Rose case. They include new policies of the police department’s Internal Affairs Division to “coordinate more timely, thorough and independent investigations” and work currently underway to develop a “matrix” to guide discipline or termination recommendations to be used by the new Civilian Review Board “to ensure a more consistent application of discipline.” The report recommends that the same approach be used with internal affairs cases. 

The report also recommends a strengthening of the reporting requirements in the ordinance establishing the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency. Under the ordinance that took effect in January, OPAT is required to notify the Internal Affairs Division of any report it receives of an officer being charged with crime. The new report recommends that the internal affairs division be required to notify the OPAT, as well as a new state oversight board, of any such charges. 

The report does not fault by name any specific members of the police department command staff. Janey, however, said that “responsibility is clear” when it comes to who had authority to fire Rose, a power that is held by the police commissioner.

Paul Evans, who was police commissioner at the time, has defended the department’s handling of the case, saying the lack of witness testimony or other evidence prevented the department from proceeding with a disciplinary hearing against Rose that could have led to his termination. 

Janey vowed to deliver the report on the Rose case within 45 days after appointing Everett as director of the new oversight office in early May.

Earlier this month, fellow mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell ripped Janey for missing that deadline. 

Following Thursday’s release of the report, Campbell reiterated her earlier call for the US attorney’s office to conduct an independent investigation of the case. “The report released today does not provide any significant new insight into why Patrick Rose was allowed to remain on the force after the 1995 abuse allegations,” she said in a statement. “It’s time for a real, independent investigation led by the US attorney’s office to find out what really happened here and give residents the transparency and accountability they deserve.”

The report says its review of policies in place at the time of the Rose case underscores “the urgency” of implementing recommendations of the 2020 task force and getting the OPAT fully operational.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

“Because many of the St. Clair Commission’s recommendations years ago were not implemented,” the report says, “and because sound judgement was seemingly not exercised in this case then, we must now accelerate needed reforms so that this never happens again.”