Facing mounting criticism from lawmakers, Acting Mayor Kim Janey vowed Monday evening to release records from a 1995 Boston police internal investigation, documents that could shed light on why the department allowed an accused child rapist to remain on the force for two decades prior to his arrest last year for the alleged rape of six children.
Janey’s announcement followed a Globe investigation that revealed the department determined in 1995 that Patrick M. Rose Sr., the onetime president of the city’s powerful patrolmen’s union, had more than likely molested a 12-year-old child. The department had repeatedly refused to release the case files or discuss why Rose, who is now charged with sexually abusing five additional children, continued as a patrolman and had access to children.
Janey, who became acting mayor on March 24, ordered the city’s Law Department on Monday to review Rose’s internal affairs file, make redactions necessary to protect the identities of the alleged victims, and soon release the documents.
“It is baffling that officer Rose was allowed to remain on the force for over two decades and ultimately led the patrolmen’s union,” Janey said. “I was deeply disturbed to learn that there was no effort to prevent Rose from coming into contact with other minors after such serious charges were found to be credible by BPD’s own internal affairs probe of the original allegations in 1995.”
Janey’s decision came amid intense pressure from a swath of city councilors, mayoral candidates, and members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. Officials called for an independent investigation and demanded the city provide insight into how the Boston Police Department handled the decades-old case.
Janey did not set a timeline for the release of the documents and didn’t address the requests for an outside investigation.
The Globe reported Saturday night that the department in 1995 filed criminal sexual abuse charges against Rose. The charges were eventually dropped, prosecutors now say, when the boy recanted the accusations amid pressure from Rose. A separate BPD administrative investigation later determined Rose had likely committed a crime.
In a joint statement Sunday, the Boston City Council called for a thorough accounting of the police department’s handling of the 1995 case and vowed to “use every tool available” ― including the council’s ability to force the release of city records — to “ensure transparency in this matter and create safeguards to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.”
“This continued lack of transparency and accountability is unacceptable,” Councilor Andrea Campbell, one of several councilors currently running for mayor, said Monday. “Every minute of delay further erodes public trust and denies victims justice.”
Fellow councilor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu called the situation “a horrific breach of the public trust, and it continues to this day with the [Janey] administration’s refusal to release internal affairs records.”
Annissa Essaibi George, another councilor running for mayor, said in a social media post: “This cover-up culture must become a thing of the past.”
The demands for additional information came in the lead-up to a Boston mayoral election in which the issue of policing figures to feature prominently.
Members of the state’s congressional delegation also threw support behind calls for an independent inquiry.
Calling reports of Boston police’s handling of the allegations against Rose “an alarming violation of public trust,” US Representative Ayanna Pressley said in a statement that “it is well known in [this] community that claims directly to internal affairs at BPD are often met with no recourse, consequences or accountability.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren said she was “disgusted” by the allegations detailed in the Boston Globe reporting.
“We need transparency and accountability to root out injustices throughout the system — and that includes an independent investigation into what happened and what was covered up,” she said.
Rose was arrested last summer and is currently jailed on 33 counts of sexual abuse of six victims from age 7 to 16.
One of those children reported to police in 1995 that Rose had abused him. The department has refused to say whether Rose was ever disciplined, but the Globe investigation found that the department did little, if anything, to limit Rose’s contact with children following the allegation. On various occasions, he interacted with minors, including giving a ride in his patrol car to a special needs child and being dispatched to help a 14-year-old girl who reported she had been raped.
A lawyer for Rose has said that his client denies the charges.
Rose worked as a patrolman for two decades. He was elected president of the city’s powerful patrolmen’s union in 2014 and held the position until just prior to his retirement in early 2018.
Larry Calderone, the current president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, declined comment through a spokesman Monday. A Boston Police spokesperson referred the Globe to the mayor’s statement.
For Janey, the case represents the first major crisis since being sworn in following the appointment of Martin J. Walsh as US labor secretary. Walsh’s Labor Department did not respond Monday to requests for comment.
The Globe report also came on a weekend in which an elderly Dorchester woman was shot and killed in a barrage of gunfire while in her front yard.
As a city councilor, Janey was an outspoken proponent of police reform. In a letter sent last summer to then-mayor Walsh, she and a collection of lawmakers civic groups called for a 10 percent reduction to BPD’s budget, the addition of more Black supervisors in the department, and the release of all internal affairs complaints and anti-corruption investigations, among other requests.
Janey has inherited a police department in disarray. Current police commissioner Dennis White has been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 3, when a Globe investigation revealed that he’d been accused in 1999 of pushing and threatening to shoot his then-wife. Walsh said he did not know of the allegation when he appointed White as the city’s 43rd police commissioner. He acknowledged that the city had not vetted White’s internal investigative file.
An independent investigation into the allegations is ongoing, and Janey said last week she expects that probe to conclude by the end of the month.
In explaining her decision to release the records Monday, Janey said that withholding such information would only serve to erode the public’s trust.
“Transparency and accountability are foundational values when it comes to fostering public trust,” she said, “and this is especially true for law enforcement.”
Andrew Ryan and Emma Platoff of the Globe staff contributed to this report.