Records call sexual assault claim against Arroyo ‘unfounded’
Officials concluded no crime occurred, but didn’t say allegations were not true
IN THE LATEST chapter in the bare-knuckle brawl that the Suffolk County district attorney’s race become, Democratic challenger Ricardo Arroyo claimed newly released records cleared him of sexual assault, while incumbent DA Kevin Hayden maintained that the information does nothing to refute or undermine the claims of a high school classmate of Arroyo’s that he pressured her to perform oral sex.
Police files ordered released by a Suffolk Superior Court judge include July 2006 Boston police documents declaring the final disposition of the 2005 case as “unfounded” and a February 2006 email from an assistant district attorney handling the case saying it was being closed because “there was no crime committed.”
Arroyo’s campaign said the records prove what he has maintained since the explosive charges first surfaced last month – that “he has never sexually assaulted anyone.”
But the files do not say that investigators did not believe the alleged victim, who earlier this week broke her silence and told the Boston Globe she stands by her account that Arroyo forced her to have sex, which the paper earlier reported based on police and school records it obtained.
“We have thoroughly reviewed our entire unredacted file regarding the sexual assault allegations against Ricardo Arroyo. Nothing in the file suggests or indicates that the allegations were unfounded,” it said. “Also, nothing in the file questions the validity of the victim’s statements.”
Hayden’s office said its files don’t include any of the Boston police records that refer to the allegations as “unfounded,” and a Hayden spokesman said the determination that no crime occurred does not mean the allegations against Arroyo made by the victim are untrue.
The February 17, 2006, email from assistant district attorney Tara Burdman to a Boston police detective was redacted to exclude what the victim said when she was informed that the DA’s office had concluded no crime was committed.
The Globe, which received an unredacted version of the email from its original source, said Burdman went on to say: “There is no indication that [defendant] threatened or was violent towards [victim].”
Burdman said in the email she offered to meet with the victim in person to discuss the issue but the victim never responded to a voicemail on her cell phone or a written letter.
Friday’s turn of events came just four days before the Democratic primary in a race that has been upended by the sexual assault allegations against Arroyo, who claims he was not even aware of an investigation of his actions until approached by Globe reporters for a a story published August 23.
The Globe reported, based on police and school documents it said the paper obtained “from someone who had copies of the records,” that Arroyo was the subject of two investigations for sexual assault, in 2005 and 2007, when he was 18 and 19 years old.
Whether Arroyo knew of any investigation is important because he answered a question on his 2014 application for his law license saying he had never been the subject of any investigation involving an alleged misdemeanor or felony. Providing a false answer on the application could subject him to sanctions, including suspension of his law license.
A lawyer for the woman who went to police with the allegation in 2007 came forward last month after the initial Globe report to say her client now denies that Arroyo ever assaulted her. The attorney also lambasted Hayden, charging that he was behind the leaking of files on the cases to the Globe.
Arroyo’s campaign has maintained that incomplete files on the case – omitting the documents concluding the charges were “unfounded” – were illegally leaked to undermine his campaign. The 34-year-old Boston city councilor has run on a progressive platform, vowing to continue the reforms put in place by Rachael Rollins before she left earlier this year to become US attorney for Massachusetts. Hayden has staked out more moderate ground and is widely seen as the favored candidate of the law enforcement community.
Though Arroyo’s campaign was rocked by the initial report, many of his high-profile supporters stuck with him until the Globe reported this week on an interview with the alleged 2005 victim in which she said her charges that Arroyo pressured her to perform oral sex were true. She also said he sent her threatening emails. (In Burdman’s email about the case, the prosecutor said she did not have enough information about the threatening emails the victim reported receiving to determine who the suspect would be.)
“It makes me feel sick, sick to my stomach,” the victim told the Globe anonymously. “I see so many people continuing to endorse him without finding out more. As the potential DA, women are not going to feel safe calling his office. Their cases won’t get heard. … All those people will be afraid to come forward.”
Arroyo’s support then quickly crumbled, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and other officials withdrawing their endorsements.Later Friday, the city of Boston released the full 57-page set of documents released by the court. They included files not released earlier in the day by Arroyo that further undercut his claim to have not known he was under investigation at the time his alleged victims went to police.
One of them includes a handwritten comment, “lawyered up,” while another lists “Jose Vincente” as “defense counsel.” Arroyo previously told the Globe that he hired Jose Vincenty, a lawyer and family friend, around the time of the 2005 allegation, saying he sought Vincenty’s help him with issues at O’Bryant High School, where, Arroyo told the paper, he had been struggling academically. Arroyo declined to waive attorney-client privilege to let Vincenty describe the scope of his work.