The large field of Boston mayoral candidates expressed outrage Tuesday over newly released police internal affairs files that showed a Boston police officer was allowed to keep his job for years after department brass knew the patrolman more than likely molested a child.
Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans was informed in 1996 that his own investigators believed the officer, Patrick M. Rose Sr., had assaulted a 12-year-old. But under pressure from the union, Rose was allowed to keep his job, according to 13 pages of internal affairs records released by the city Tuesday.
Rose, who would later serve as head of the police patrolmen’s union, would go on to abuse five more children, prosecutors say. He retired in 2018 and was arrested in August. He has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence, according to his lawyer.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who is running for a full term in this fall’s election, said it was “deeply unsettling and entirely unacceptable that Rose remained on the force for two decades.”
“His alleged behavior is disgusting, and the apparent lack of leadership shown by the department at the time is extremely troubling,” Janey said in a statement. “This culture of secrecy cannot be tolerated.”
Janey did not answer questions at a City Hall appearance Tuesday evening after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.
The department initially barred Rose from carrying a gun and relegated him to desk duty. But two years later, Rose returned to full duty after the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association threatened to file a grievance on his behalf.
Even after a rebuke from the state’s supervisor of public records, former mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration said last month it would not release the files related to the Rose internal affairs case. But Janey ordered they be made public after a Globe investigation revealed the police department allowed Rose to keep his badge for another two decades after authorities determined that he had likely molested a child.
Janey said she has asked Stephanie Everett, soon-to-be executive director of the city’s new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, to investigate the process followed in the Rose case. Everett will start that new role on May 3. Within 45 days, Everett will deliver a plan to review and potentially reform the police department’s internal affairs procedures, Janey said.
Annissa Essaibi George, one of several councilors who is running for mayor, said “this is a horrific crime.”
“Those who knew failed to uphold their obligation to serve and protect the people of Boston,” she said. “This coverup culture has got to end. Our city institutions only work if our communities can trust them. This is a failure that I refuse to see repeated.”
Another mayoral candidate, the city’s former economic development chief John Barros, said releasing the internal files “is just the first step toward accountability.”
“Anyone who knowingly engaged in this decades-long coverup must be held accountable,” he said. “The Boston community demands justice for the survivors to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.”
Barros said it was clear “in this case that a code of silence protected the abuser and destroyed lives.”
“We demand far greater transparency and accountability in law enforcement,” he said. “No one is above the law.”
State Representative Jon Santiago, who is also running to be the city’s executive, said the revelations “and the coverup that kept him on the Boston Police Department are shocking and unforgivable.”
“Rose’s horrifying conduct — which was known and ignored by officials entrusted with the protection of our community — enabled more young people in our city to be endangered when they should have been shielded from a known predator. We must commit ourselves to delivering justice for the survivors and rebuilding the public trust,” he said.
City Councilor Andrea Campbell said the records “make it clear that leadership in the Boston Police Department and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association looked the other way and covered up sustained allegations that officer Patrick Rose had sexually assaulted a child.”
“This coverup rose to the highest leadership levels of the Boston Police Department and protected and enabled him to target and abuse other children. There is no greater violation of trust and no failure of leadership more sickening,” she said.
She called for an immediate, independent review of the case.
“Bostonians deserve to know who else in BPD was aware of his crimes and failed to act as they should be held accountable,” she said.
City Councilor Michelle Wu said the internal files “leave far more questions than answers.”
“Boston must meet this horrific breach of trust with the fullest commitment to transparency and change,” said Wu. “We need a fully independent investigation, and we need to completely overhaul a culture of secrecy that has been revealed again and again.”
Andrew Ryan of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.