Former Boston police commissioner Paul F. Evans joined a contingent of voices calling on the city to release the full internal affairs file for Patrick M. Rose Sr., the former patrolman and union chief now accused of molesting six children over the course of more than two decades.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Tuesday released 13 pages of a 105-page file on Rose covering allegations that he abused a 12-year-old child in 1995, when Evans was commissioner. The rest of the records, Janey said, needed to remain private to protect the identity of the victim.
In a nearly 700-word statement released just before midnight on Tuesday, Evans and former BPD chief of internal investigations Ann Marie Doherty argued that the additional files will show that the Boston Police Department did everything it could to hold Rose accountable for child abuse allegations in the 1990s, including an internal affairs investigation that found Rose likely abused a 12-year-old.
“We believed at the time, and we still believe, that everything that could be done by the Boston Police Department was done in this matter to hold Rose accountable,” the statement said.
Since the Globe first reported on the case of Rose earlier this month, the department’s handling of the matter has drawn the condemnation of city and state lawmakers, as well as members of the state’s congressional delegation. But the outcry has not resolved numerous questions about the case, even after Janey — under growing pressure — ordered the release of portions of Rose’s internal affairs file on Tuesday.
The documents revealed that Evans was notified in 1996 about an internal affairs charge against Rose for sexually abusing a minor. The next year, Rose was reinstated from desk duty to patrol officer after an attorney for the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association threatened to file a grievance on Rose’s behalf.
Rose, who later served as president of the powerful police patrolmen’s union, would go on to allegedly abuse five more children, prosecutors say. Arrested and jailed since last August, he has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer says he maintains his innocence.
In releasing a portion of the Rose file, Janey said, “It is clear that previous leaders of the police department neglected their duty to protect and serve.”
But the files did not address a number of key points, including who ultimately made the decision to reinstate Rose; what evidence was used by the department’s internal affairs bureau to sustain the allegation against Rose; and what Evans’s specific role was in the process.
In response Wednesday to a request by the Globe for additional documents, city spokesman Nick Martin said that the files released Tuesday “included everything related to BPD’s internal affairs process and the disposition of the case at the time.”
“There are no documents related to the reasons for action or inaction, or even who took the action,” Martin said in an e-mail. “The internal affairs file does not contain anything related to the rationale for sustaining the allegation against former officer Rose or what former Commissioner Evans’ role was in the process.
“We understand that this information raises additional questions,” he added, “but unfortunately we have no way of answering those things 26 years later with the documents we have today.”
Reached Wednesday afternoon, Evans said he stood by his statement but declined to comment further.
In their statement late Tuesday, Evans and Doherty said the department handled the Rose case properly, notifying the district attorney and child protective services and filing a criminal complaint that was ultimately dismissed when the alleged victim recanted, allegedly under pressure from his abuser.
Following the sustained internal charge against Rose, Evans and Doherty said, the department referred the case to the department’s Office of the Legal Advisor for a disciplinary hearing. However, after the victim recanted his allegations, they lacked witness testimony or other admissible evidence, making it impossible to proceed with the hearing or take disciplinary action against Rose.
That explanation, however, rang hollow to some familiar with the department’s internal procedures.
Larry Ellison, former president of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, dismissed the notion that the department lacked the ability to fire Rose after investigations from both internal affairs and the state’s Department of Social Services found evidence of abuse.
“If you blow your nose the wrong way, they can terminate you,” Ellison said. “[And] I have to read that this guy, the allegations as serious as they are, gets to keep his job? And you want people to believe ... that your hands were tied?”
Criminal justice experts on Wednesday also questioned how Boston police could turn up enough evidence to sustain an internal affairs charge, but not enough to follow through with disciplinary action.
Jeff Noble, a police practices expert who testified in the cases of Tamir Rice and Philando Castile, said that if a decision was made not to go forward with a disciplinary hearing after a sustained charge, documentation explaining the decision should be present in the internal affairs file.
“You don’t just walk away from a sustained finding,” said Noble, a former deputy police chief in Irvine, Calif. “If [the commissioner] signed off on the sustained allegation, then he agreed with the allegation. So if he agreed with the sustained allegation, then why didn’t he go forward with discipline?”
Tom Nolan, a former Boston police lieutenant who now teaches at Emmanuel College, said he’d never heard of a case in which a charge against an officer was sustained but no discipline was rendered.
“That doesn’t happen,” he said.
He also argued that, unlike a criminal proceeding, an administrative investigation might not require direct testimony from a victim because the standard of evidence is lower. For instance, if the victim told a family member about the alleged abuse, that person could cooperate with the administrative investigation.
Like others, Nolan also criticized the limited nature of the documents released Tuesday by the city, saying it appeared to be “cherry-picked” data that “cast the past administrators in the worst possible light.”
“I don’t know what [the full file] contains because we don’t have it, but it could paint a different picture entirely,” he said. “It could show that these people were trying to move forward, but their hands were tied.”
Tuesday’s response from Evans and Doherty, who argued that releasing the full internal affairs file was in the “interest of true transparency,” came after both declined several requests for comment from the Globe.
The Globe first sought comment from Evans about his handling of Rose’s case last October, but the former commissioner did not respond to e-mails or voicemail messages. Various requests to Doherty also went unanswered.
On Tuesday, Janey said she has asked the incoming leader of the new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency to investigate the department’s handling of Rose and to suggest reforms to the internal affairs system.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said she suspects the charges against Rose were well known among police officers, but it didn’t prevent them from electing Rose as their union president. Speaking on GBH-TV’s “Greater Boston” on Wednesday, Rollins called it an example of “systemic racism” where “certain officers are given the benefit of the doubt.”
“I work with police all the time — they gossip more than middle schoolers, OK, so I will put good money on the fact that every one of them knew the allegations against Patrick Rose Sr. and they still voted later — voted — to have him ascend to the highest ranking position in the largest union of the Boston Police Department,” Rollins said.
Noble, the policing expert, said Wednesday that the Rose case is a prime example of the larger issue facing policing today: a lack of trust among the public that departments will do the right thing when confronted by misconduct in their ranks.
While the public understands that certain officers will sometimes engage in misconduct, Noble said, “what we can’t understand is the agency’s failing to take action.”
“Boston’s a big police department,” he added. “How many other cases are in their files that you don’t know about?”