A candidate for the Legislature on Thursday told state Representative Carlos Henriquez, who is facing charges that he kidnapped and assaulted a woman last month, that he should resign from his seat because the case has overshadowed his work, a claim the lawmaker rejected.
“At this point you are a distraction to your party,” said Thomas J. Dooley III, a Beacon Hill real estate broker running as a Republican for the seat currently held by state Senator Anthony Petruccelli, an East Boston Democrat. “And they probably wish you would just go away.”
Henriquez, a Democrat who represents parts of Roxbury and Dorchester, said the pending criminal case has not distracted him from his duties.
“I haven’t missed any community meetings, I haven’t missed any votes, I’m actually being more active to make sure I’m getting out and knocking on doors just like you and talking to residents, and dealing with issues face on,” Henriquez said. “So I believe that when I’m found innocent, the work will continue.”
The exchange between the two men occurred before a community meeting that Henriquez held at Dorchester House, a neighborhood health center, to discuss recent activity at the State House and to hear constituent concerns. Dooley did not stay for the meeting.
Boston police arrested Henriquez, 35, last month after his girlfriend at the time, Katherine Gonzalves, exited his car near Northeastern University on the morning of July 8.
In police reports and at a press conference last month, Gonzalves, 23, said that Henriquez came to her Arlington home and that the couple got into the rear seat of the vehicle and began kissing.
But when Gonzalves told Henriquez she had to return home, she said, he punched and choked her, stole the battery out of her cellphone, and forced her to remain in his car while he drove into Boston, where she managed to free herself on Forsyth Street.
Henriquez has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has called Gonzalvez’s statements “completely untrue.” In response, Gonzalves told reporters last month, “I have told the truth about this incident and will continue to do so.”
Criminal charges stemming from the incident, including kidnapping, witness intimidation, and assault and battery, are pending against Henriquez in Middlesex and Suffolk counties.
In an interview after Thursday’s meeting, Henriquez said he has not considered resigning since his arrest, and that he has not heard calls from constituents that he step down. He also said he will not entertain the possibility of resolving his case with any type of plea deal.
“I can’t plead to something I’m innocent of,” he said.
During the meeting, he discussed several issues with a handful of attendees, including crime prevention and youth job programs, and nobody asked about his arrest. He pledged at one point to look into having more police bicycle patrols in the neighborhood, which often struggles with crime.
“I think we should get a larger share of police resources than others,” he said.
Mary Truong, external relations director at Dorchester House, attended the meeting and said outside that Henriquez has performed well in the Legislature.
“He’s very sharp,” she said.
Truong said she did not know what to think of the charges because she has yet to hear Henriquez give his account of what happened. She said some of her colleagues are similarly confused.
“They all are curious to know what actually happened,” she said.
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.