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DA Rollins believes Gross is ‘more credible’ than former mayor Walsh regarding Dennis White

District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
District Attorney Rachael Rollins.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File/2020

Former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross swore under oath that former Mayor Martin J. Walsh was told about embattled Commissioner Dennis White’s domestic violence history — and for Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins that means Gross trumps Walsh.

Rollins discussed the ongoing controversy over the top job in the police department that is leading some top Democrats to question whether Walsh should remain in Washington leading the US Labor Department.

In an interview with GBH “Boston Public Radio” hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, Rollins said that as a lawyer she chooses who to believe based on whether a person is willing to swear under the pains and penalties of perjury — as Gross has done, asserting that Walsh was personally informed of White’s domestic violence history.

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Walsh has adamantly denied that he was told about White’s troubled personal history.

“As a lawyer, I have a signed affidavit from one person saying what happened. And I have lots to talk from other people, but somebody signed something under the pains and penalties of perjury, for me that has to trump — I love using that word —that has to trump somebody just saying, ‘yeah, that never happened,’ “ Rollins said, according to transcript posted by GBH.

“So, you do believe him?” co-host Braude asked.

“Well, no, what I’m saying is I have a document in front of me that’s signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. Just even forget about being a lawyer, that has to be more credible than just somebody saying, ‘yeah, that didn’t happen,’ “ she replied.

Rollins noted that the domestic violence allegations against White date to the 1990s. “A lot of this that we’re reading about is twenty, twenty one is regarding bad behavior that happened in 1993 or 1999 or 2000. Right. And that does not in any way say we’re perfect now,” she said. “But I do want to make sure we understand what we’re talking about, is behavior that is alleged to have occurred well over two decades ago.”

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Braude asked Rollins if she was “saying you think there was not cause for the dismissal of Dennis White.”

“No. I want to be clear. That is not my decision to make,’’ Rollins replied. “What I’m saying is I want to be clear that I think our former mayor left a very big mess for our acting mayor.”

Rollins said the recent investigation ordered by Acting Mayor Kim Janey has identified a clear failure of the department to act more aggressively regarding White during the 1990s. That, she said, is a sign of a “systems failure ... And a man is being penalized because of a systems failure.”

Rollins said the department and the city needs to have stability in the police department. She applauded Acting Commissioner Greg Long, who has drawn criticism for his handling of the current investigation into White’s domestic history.

“He’s a wonderful man and he is — look, do we agree on everything? No, but he is a servant for the city of Boston,’' Rollins said of Long. “I do think Acting Commissioner Long was put in a near impossible position to instruct people to answer questions about somebody that he might be replacing. How does that not look like a sort of conflict of interest for the commissioner?”

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Rollins, who is reported to be the top candidate to become the next US Attorney for Massachusetts, declined to say what she would do if she was in the position of deciding whether to keep White on as commissioner.

“I leave that up to the very capable Mayor Janey,” Rollins said.



John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.