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Adrian Walker

A rocky time for Everett’s mayor

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria (left), shown with casino mogul Steve Wynn, is facing claims of sexual harassment.

Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press/File

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria (left), shown with casino mogul Steve Wynn, is facing claims of sexual harassment.

Carlo DeMaria, the mayor of Everett, has become known as a small-city mayor with big dreams tied to the state’s nascent casino business.

He has been a tireless cheerleader for Steve Wynn’s proposed casino on the Mystic River, drawing scrutiny earlier this year for his ties to two men with felony records who may have a stake in the site.

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But that is nothing compared with the allegations in an explosive story in the Sunday Globe.

Four women have accused the mayor of sexual harassment — in some cases “harassment” may be too mild a term. One was a former city employee, while two of them worked at doughnut shops owned by DeMaria. One of them was a soldier’s mother who was allegedly harassed, for years, after asking for the mayor’s help on a project to aid veterans.

What kind of person is DeMaria when he is on the prowl? One of the women has said he exposed himself. Another says he groped her, twice. The former city worker says the mayor summoned her to his office several times, telling her on one occasion that the only reason she was hired was because she had nice breasts. Although “breasts” wasn’t the word he used.

The woman also told the Globe that the mayor informed her that she could do no wrong if she would perform oral sex on him.

What a mayor. What a boss.

DeMaria denied all the allegations in a written statement. He contends the charges are baseless, and may be the work of anticasino zealots who don’t want to see hardscrabble Everett thrive.

Not only that, the mayor would like to remind everyone that he is a family man, having been married since 1997. “I would never do anything to jeopardize my marriage to my wife of 18 years, nor would I do anything that could harm or jeopardize my children’s future,” he said.

The mayor’s defense strikes me as a bit shaky. None of the women have any apparent ties to the anticasino movement. They don’t have any connection to one another, either. If this is a conspiracy, it’s an odd one.

In his statement, he stressed that no sexual harassment complaints have been filed against him in his time as an elected official. The statement also said that the one court case against him was dismissed.

Now, I don’t know what Carlo DeMaria did or didn’t do to these women. But I’m pretty sure that the absence of formal complaints doesn't prove much. He’s the mayor, allegedly operating behind closed doors. In a confrontation, it would be their word against his. It’s not unthinkable that a harassed employee would hesitate to turn the mayor in to his own human resources department.

This is a rocky time for DeMaria. His highly visible bid for a casino has resulted in a lot of scrutiny, and clearly this is a man who doesn’t do well with scrutiny. When the Globe reported on his undisclosed relationship with the convicted felons who might benefit from the casino, DeMaria canceled four scheduled interviews before releasing a statement. Now he’s under the microscope again.

Meanwhile, the future of the Everett casino is anyone’s guess. The centerpiece of his economic development plan could unravel in November, when voters decide whether to scrap casinos altogether. Years of frenetic lobbying on DeMaria’s part could very well come to nothing. Does he have a Plan B for developing Everett?

But I’m not especially concerned about DeMaria, a guy who’s done very well for himself. My concern is for the women who may have had to put up with his boorish behavior. He says they’re liars, but they sound more like terrified victims to me.

The former city employee summed up her plight this way: “I’m ashamed that I even went there for four months, but I had bills to pay,” she said.

Working for the mayor of Everett sounds like an awfully tough way for a woman to make a living.

More coverage:

Four women accuse Everett mayor of sexual harassment

Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at walker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Adrian_Walker.
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