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Former wife of Boston Police Commissioner White speaks out as decision on his job looms

Dennis White appeared during the Zoom hearing on May 20.Suffolk Superior Court

The ongoing legal and familial drama surrounding Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White and his effort to stay in his post continued to roil City Hall Wednesday, as White’s ex-wife and younger daughter went public with fresh details of abuse they say White directed at them.

The latest ugly accusations surfaced just hours after Acting Mayor Kim Janey held a high-stakes termination hearing to consider ousting White. Janey did not immediately announce a decision after the hourlong hearing, which was closed to the public, saying in a statement she will issue one “after careful deliberation.”

White has been suspended since February over domestic violence allegations from the 1990s that surfaced soon after his appointment. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and reiterated his innocence on Wednesday, according to a written transcript of his remarks at the hearing provided by his legal team.


But Sybil Mason, White’s former wife — whom White’s lawyer has sought to paint as the perpetrator of domestic violence in the relationship, with White the victim — described in several interviews late Wednesday the abuse she says White inflicted.

Mason told public radio station WBUR that White physically and emotionally abused her throughout their marriage, saying she had “scars proving it did happen.” She also said White coerced her into sexual situations.

“My sister, nor my daughter, can say this didn’t happen. I went through it,” Mason told WBUR, referring to video affidavits from White’s older daughter Tiffany and former sister-in-law Connie Owens, which White’s attorney released earlier this week. “I was the one who got stomped on. I was the one who got beat.”

The Globe does not identify victims of domestic violence, unless they agree to be named, as she did for the WBUR interview, among others. Mason did not immediately respond to inquiries from the Globe, and no one answered the door at an address associated with her.


White’s attorney, Nicholas B. Carter, said in a Wednesday statement that Mason’s allegations “are contradicted by her own recorded statement to the police and the court in 1999 that there was ‘no physical abuse’ in Dennis White’s relationship with her.”

Toni Troop, a spokeswoman for Jane Doe Inc., said it’s not unusual that abuse survivors might appear to change their stories, driven by “cultural and contextual reasons” including trauma, fear of retaliation, and concern about not being believed.

“The focus on whether someone who is sharing their story of abuse is telling the truth is disheartening,” said Troop. “It shows we have a long way to go.”

More of the White family discord emerged in an hour-long Facebook post Tuesday evening by the younger of White’s two adult daughters, Brittany, in which she says she spoke out after her father decided to “bash my mom to keep his job.”

She said her mother was abused “emotionally, mentally, and physically” and that her parents had a dysfunctional relationship.

In a video laced with obscenities and threats of violence against her sister, aunt, and others, Brittany White, 32, said her parents were “horrible to each other, cheating on each other” and “the abuse was both ways.”

The intensifying family conflict threatened to overshadow White’s legal case for staying on the job. Earlier in the day, White had asked Janey during the termination hearing to be reinstated. He argued “it would set the city back if I am removed,” according to the transcript provided by his legal team.


“Let’s be clear,” White said. “I am a Black man, who has been accused falsely of crimes, I have not yet been given a fair trial, and I’m on the brink of being convicted, or terminated, which is the equivalent here. As you know, that is a pattern that has been repeated in this country for centuries. I believe it will be bad for Boston if that pattern is repeated here with me.”

Janey told reporters after the hearing that she would make her decision on White “as soon as possible” but didn’t offer any specific timeline.

Mason and Brittany White both indicated they came forward in response to a series of sworn statements released by White’s lawyer that hurled allegations at Mason.

The material included videos recorded by Tiffany White and Connie Owens, who both depicted the commissioner’s former wife as the violent abuser in the relationship.

Brittany White said the media coverage, some of which shifted blame to White’s former wife and suggested she should be fired from her job, pushed her over the top.

“My mom is such an abuser then it should be her losing her job and not my dad?” she said in the video. “My dad is an abuser. He slapped me so hard in my face because I was listening to a rap song.”


Brittany White said her father once slammed her arm in a car door when he was angry and gave her a scar, although she was not sure if he did it on purpose.

The commissioner issued a statement Wednesday evening rejecting all of Brittany White’s allegations. He said he never slapped her, slammed her arm in a car door, or “ever physically abused her.”

In her video, Brittany White said that she never saw either of her parents hit each other, but she heard violent interactions. She said her mother came to visit her recently and Mason was torn to pieces after news broke of domestic abuse allegations from the 1990s.

“Imagine seeing your mamma so depressed because she feels like she’s reliving [abuse] and nobody is believing her again,” Brittany White said.

More than four months have passed since former police commissioner William Gross announced his retirement, clearing the way for then-mayor Martin J. Walsh to appoint a new commissioner before vacating the office to begin his role as US secretary of labor.

White was placed on leave shortly after he was sworn in when the allegations surfaced following a Globe inquiry. Janey inherited the situation when she became acting mayor in March.

On Wednesday, White denied wrongdoing and asserted the outside investigation into the matter commissioned by the city was flawed, according to the transcript.

“The investigator says she encountered a Blue Wall of Silence because she says people refused to speak to her,” White said. “Who are these people? I know at least one person who was prepared to speak to the investigator but simply wanted his union rep to attend with him. The investigator refused. Is that person counted as someone who refused to speak to the investigator?”


Acting Mayor Kim Janey at City Hall Plaza during a ceremony to mark the start of National Caribbean-American Heritage Month on Wednesday.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File

Elizabeth Koh and Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald. Andrew Ryan can be reached at Follow him @globeandrewryan.