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. 

Almost two hours before Arroyo’s campaign shared four pages from the 57-page packet of documents released by the court, Hayden’s office issued a preemptive statement at 1 pm aimed at undercutting any effort by Arroyo to say he had been cleared of wrongdoing. 

“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. 

Arroyo’s claim that he never even knew of the allegations was contradicted, the Globe reported, by a Boston police document saying a detective went to his house and spoke with his mother about the 2005 allegation. The report said the detective spoke later that day by phone with Arroyo, then 18, who said he planned to hire a lawyer.  

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. 

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.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

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.