One by one, the survivors confronted their abuser, describing the suffering they had endured, the painful struggle to move past the trauma he inflicted. Each wiped away tears as they looked him dead in the eye.
“You might have hurt me for three years straight, but now I’m getting stronger and stronger,” the youngest survivor said in a victim impact statement. “Now, all the anger and hatred isn’t pointed towards myself. It’s pointed towards you.”
In an emotional hearing at Suffolk Superior Court on Monday, Patrick M. Rose Sr., a longtime Boston police officer and former president of the patrolmen’s union, pleaded guilty to molesting six children over several decades. He was sentenced to serve at least 10 years in prison, capping a case that exposed deep institutional failings within the city’s Police Department, which has a history of protecting officers accused of misconduct.
Rose, 67, was arrested in 2020 and charged with 33 counts of sexual abuse of six children ranging in age from 7 to 16. In April 2021, the Globe reported that Rose was allowed to keep his badge for 20 years after top police officials determined he more than likely sexually abused a child in 1995.
Rose, who retired from the department in 2018, had maintained his innocence since his arrest. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped five counts of aggravated child rape, which would have required Rose to serve a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. Under the agreement, Rose was sentenced to 10 to 13 years in prison, but could be released on parole after serving less than a decade.
“This was an agreed-upon case resolution to spare the victims from having to testify at trial,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden. “The victims were fully on board with the plea agreement.”
Another survivor, whose daughter was molested by Rose more than two decades later, detailed the immense toll of Rose’s crimes, including a cycle of substance abuse and self-harm.
“Never did I expect to see that thousand mile stare” in my own child’s face, the survivor said. “Countless PTSD breakdowns, nights spent in hospital rooms ... knowing it’s because you hurt [us], haunts me every minute of every day.”
In a statement he read aloud just before he was sentenced, Rose expressed remorse for his crimes.
“I want to apologize for my despicable behavior. ... I am solely responsible for any acts that I perpetrated,” he said. “Do not allow your anger or hatred to destroy who you are. Do not allow yourselves to point a finger of blame to anyone but me.”
But in their statements, the survivors said Rose’s refusal to admit his wrongdoing over the past two years had deepened their anguish.
“Your actions since you’ve been arrested have shown how selfish and heartless you truly are,” a third survivor said, looking Rose directly in the eyes. “This past 20 months could have been spent healing ... but I can’t sleep one night without seeing your face.”
“You tried your hardest to discredit me from a very young age,” the survivor said. Now “I can finally let go of the shame and embarrassment I’ve carried with me my entire life, and we can finally see justice.”
In 1995, the Police Department filed a criminal complaint against Rose for sexual assault on a 12-year-old. Prosecutors said the child ultimately recanted under pressure from Rose, a common phenomenon for young survivors of abuse when faced with demands from their abuser.
After prosecutors dropped the criminal charge, the Police Department proceeded with a separate administrative investigation, which concluded Rose likely molested the child. Despite the determination Rose probably broke the law, police officials never recommended that he be fired, records show.
Then-Police Commissioner Paul Evans and internal investigations chief Ann Marie Doherty released a joint statement in April 2021 defending their actions, saying that they were unable to discipline Rose because they did not have a witness or other evidence.
“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 read.
On Monday, Attorney General Maura Healey condemned Rose for his crimes and the failure of Boston police to hold him accountable.
“I was glad to see him plea, I was glad to see him convicted, [and] my heart goes out to the victims, the survivors,” Healey said in an interview with WGBH Radio. “It was incredibly disturbing to know that this person was allowed to continue to serve. We don’t know that we’ve gotten to the bottom of understanding how and why, but that can never happen again.”
The fallout from Rose’s case extended beyond his six survivors, reverberating at City Hall and beyond. Former mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration refused to release public records related to the internal affairs investigation of Rose, even after a rebuke from the state’s supervisor of public records.
Walsh’s successor, former acting mayor Kim Janey, reversed course and released a small portion of Rose’s internal affairs file. Janey also pushed for a requirement that Boston police notify a City Hall oversight agency whenever one of its officers is accused of a crime.
“Swift action should have been taken” in the 1990s to remove Rose from the department, Janey said at a news conference last summer. “It is shameful that it seems the actions taken were to protect their own, rather than to protect children.”
On Monday, Judge Mary Ames offered consolation to the six survivors as she sentenced Rose, addressing them directly to applaud their bravery.
“The strength you have demonstrated is unbelievable ... and my wish for you all is peace,” she said. “Frankly, Mr. Rose, they owe you nothing. You may beg their forgiveness, and perhaps they have forgiveness in their hearts, but they owe you nothing.”
Samantha Gross of the Globe staff contributed to this report.