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Chelsea School Committee member charged with sexually assaulting 12-year-old student

Chelsea School Committee member Henry D. Wilson was charged with allegedly raping a 12-year-old boy whom he spotted walking along Broadway in late June and offered him a ride, officials said.

The boy, a Chelsea Public Schools student, told investigators, “The man drove him to a parking lot and sexually assaulted the child in the car,” Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office said in a press release.

Parts of the alleged assault were captured on a cellphone camera, prosecutors said.

Wilson was arraigned in Chelsea District Court Tuesday where not guilty pleas were entered to charges of rape of child aggravated by a 10-year difference in age and enticing a child under the age of 16, records show. Judge Matthew J. Machera set bail at $50,000 cash, according to court records.

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Machera wrote in court papers that he set the cash bail because he was concerned Wilson would flee before trial given the serious felony charges he now faces. The alleged victim, the judge wrote, is 12 years old and the alleged crime was recorded on video. Wilson also allegedly made incriminating statements, the judge wrote.

Officials conducted a forensic interview with the boy at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County and said that he was walking in the area of Broadway in Chelsea on June 28 when a man offered him a ride in his car, Rollins’ office said.

The boy’s family became aware of the assault on July 2, and reported it to the Chelsea Police Department, Rollins’ office said.

Wilson spoke with detectives at the Chelsea Police Department on Monday and was placed in custody after the interview, Rollins’ office said.

Wilson’s defense attorney, Anthony W. Fugate of Lynn, was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier Tuesday, Chelsea School Superintendent Almi G. Abeyta read a statement on Wilson’s arrest to The Boston Globe that noted Wilson is facing charges “related to an inappropriate relationship with a student in the Chelsea Public Schools.”

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Abeyta said the system is cooperating with the ongoing investigation by Chelsea police and Rollins’ office. Wilson is now barred from all of the city’s school properties, she said.

Abeyta referred further questions to Rollins’ office, which is overseeing the investigation.

Rollins called the alleged assault “heartbreaking.”

“This man . . . was in a position of power and routinely sought out opportunities to surround himself with children. Now, he stands accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old child that is over four decades younger than him,” Rollins said.

Chelsea City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino said in a telephone interview that Wilson “performed effectively” while serving on city boards.

“He has been on our boards and performed effectively, nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “Most people are shocked by the allegations.”

Ambrosino said under the Chelsea City Charter, the city manager has no role in the School Department, that authority belongs solely to the school superintendent and elected School Committee.

Henry D. Wilson, Chelsea School Committee member, charged with sexually assaulting a Chelsea student.Chelsea School Committee

Wilson represents District 5 on the school panel and joined the nine-person elected body in 2019 after previously working as a youth mentor with Chelsea Public Schools students and on the city’s planning and zoning boards, according to his online committee biography.

“He is a member of The Neighborhood Developers, having received the 2013 Community Leadership Award, and the Chelsea Collaborative, Inc. where he was a member of the summer youth jobs program,’' the biography also states.

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Wilson’s next court appearance is Sept. 9.




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