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In Boston’s mayoral race, the Patrick Rose BPD scandal becomes a central theme

Patrick Rose.
Patrick Rose.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

One Boston mayoral candidate is calling for the city to disclose all internal investigations into accusations of sexual assault by Boston police officers over the past 30 years, while another candidate said that federal prosecutors should review the department’s handling of abuse allegations against a former patrolman

Two days after the city released 13 pages of a 105-page internal file on Patrick M. Rose Sr. covering allegations that he molested a 12-year-old child in 1995, the political fallout intensified.

John Barros, a former economic development chief for the city who is running for mayor, said Thursday that the case “raises serious concerns that there is a systemic accountability problem in the Boston Police Department.”

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“I’m calling on the acting mayor to provide a report on the number of internal affairs investigations into police officers accused of sexual assault over the past 30 years,” Barros said. “This report should include how many officers had charges sustained against them, how many were referred for prosecution, and how many of those officers are still on the force today.”

John Barros during the announcement of his run for mayor in March.
John Barros during the announcement of his run for mayor in March.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Barros said the public deserves to know whether the “decades-long cover-up” of the accusations against Rose were a one-time failure or part “of a pattern of immunity for officers credibly accused of heinous crimes.”

Allowed to remain on the force after the 1995 allegation, Rose would allegedly abuse five more children over the course of decades, according to criminal charges filed against him last August. Rose, a former head of the police patrolmen’s union, has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer says he maintains his innocence.

In 1995, prosecutors dropped a charge of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 because Rose allegedly pressured the victim to recant, a common phenomenon for young survivors of abuse when faced with demands from their abuser. However, the internal affairs probe and social services investigations went forward and determined there was evidence of abuse. Rose retired in 2018.

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The case has emerged as a central issue in this year’s crowded mayor’s race. Another mayoral candidate, Councilor Andrea Campbell, is calling for Acting Mayor Kim Janey to enlist the US attorney’s office to conduct an investigation into the police department’s handling of the Rose case. She is also pushing for the immediate release of the full internal affairs file for Rose, saying many questions have not been answered.

“Transparency in the Rose case is what Bostonians deserve but not what we got on Tuesday, when heavily redacted and incomplete internal affairs files were released within 20 minutes of the most anticipated national news of the week — the verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd,” Campbell said in a Thursday statement.

Councilor Andrea Campbell spoke during a press conference outside City Hall last week.
Councilor Andrea Campbell spoke during a press conference outside City Hall last week.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Janey, who is also running in this fall’s election, said at a City Hall news conference Thursday that “there is nothing more important than ensuring this never happens again.”

Janey has asked Stephanie Everett, the incoming executive director of the city’s new Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, or OPAT, to investigate the process followed in the case. Everett starts 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.

Janey reiterated her confidence in Everett on Thursday, saying “I know she will do a tremendous job of leading this work.” The city released what it could about the case, she said, with the legal department deciding what needed to be withheld, she said. Janey emphasized that she will continue to protect the identities of sexual assault victims.

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“We will not re-victimize survivors,” she said.

Everett’s plan will address all internal investigations of the department, Janey added.

But Campbell maintained that the US attorney’s office, not the new police accountability office, should investigate the case. The city office is still in the implementation phase and the federal agency is “primed to uncover the truth and deliver accountability,” she said.

“Investigating why Rose was not criminally prosecuted after the internal affairs division sustained the complaint of sexual assault, was not disciplined or let go by the department while he was still within the first year of probation, and was fully reinstated to his position is imperative,” she said.

The city released the Rose documents after a Globe report published earlier this month found that Rose had remained on the force for two decades after internal investigators determined he had more than likely molested a child. The revelation sparked widespread condemnation of a department with a history of protecting officers accused of misconduct.

Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans was informed in 1996 that his investigators believed Rose had sexually abused a child, but after pushback from the union, Rose was allowed to keep his badge and return to patrol, according to files released by the city.

Evans is among a contingent of people calling on the city to release the full internal affairs file. In a nearly 700-word statement released just before midnight on Tuesday, Evans and former BPD chief of internal investigations Ann Marie Doherty said the additional files will show that police officials did everything they could to hold Rose accountable for child abuse allegations in the 1990s.

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The files released earlier this week 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 the nature of Evans’s role in the process.

In response to a request by the Globe for additional documents, city spokesman Nick Martin said Wednesday that the released files “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.”

Andrew Ryan and Dugan Arnett of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.