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Amid criticism and dropped endorsements, DA candidate Arroyo pushes back on revelation of past sex assault investigations

The Boston city councilor said “this campaign is going to continue,” even as some supporters rescinded their endorsements

Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo held a press conference on Wednesday.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

As some former political allies began rescinding their endorsements, Suffolk district attorney candidate Ricardo Arroyo vowed to stay in the race Wednesday and again pushed back against revelations that he was twice investigated — though never charged — for possible sexual assault as a teenager.

“This campaign is going to continue,” Arroyo said at a press conference in Jamaica Plain. “We are going to continue to focus on making sure that we are running a campaign for justice.”

The press conference came on the heels of a Globe report that relied on police reports and official statements to show Arroyo, a 34-year-old Boston city councilor, was investigated over possible sexual assaults when he was 18 and 19. Boston police and the district attorney’s office investigated both sets of claims, and closed each after several months without charges, officials said. In a Globe interview and released statements, Arroyo offered explanations that conflicted with police records.

Arroyo was emphatic Wednesday that the allegations were baseless.

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“I have never assaulted anyone,” he reiterated. “Until a week ago, I had never been informed there were any such complaints ever made.”

He was joined by an attorney for one of his accusers, who read a statement from the woman saying Arroyo had never assaulted her, that he was her friend. The Globe does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent. The accuser in the other case against Arroyo did not respond to previous requests for comment.

Arroyo’s political campaign is backed by a who’s who of Massachusetts progressive stalwarts, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. On Wednesday, some of his support began to crumble, with former US representative Joseph P. Kennedy III withdrawing his endorsement in the morning, followed by the Iron Workers Local 7, and Boston City Council President Ed Flynn.

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“These allegations are incredibly serious and undermine the foundation of an effective DA’s office — trust and accountability,” according to a statement released by Kennedy spokesman Matt Kearney.

On Wednesday, Arroyo accused his opponent in the district attorney race, current DA Kevin Hayden, of a political smear campaign against him, and alleged Hayden leaked the documents to help tilt the Sept. 6 primary. Hayden’s office, as well as Boston police officials, had confirmed that the incident numbers on the police reports obtained by the Globe were authentic, and provided details about when investigations were opened, referred to the DA, and closed. Both agencies declined to release full case files or details of either investigation, citing protections for sexual assault victims.

“This criminal act and abuse of power was clearly done to harm my reputation and impact an election in which Kevin Hayden’s administration has a vested interest,” Arroyo said.

James Borghesani, a spokesman for Hayden in the DA’s office, declined in a statement to respond to Arroyo’s charges, beyond calling them “a Trumpian attempt to deflect attention from serious allegations.”

A spokesman for Hayden’s political campaign, Cameron Charbonnier, also declined to respond to specific allegations from Arroyo. “He is tossing out completely false and unfounded accusations in order to deflect from his own misconduct.”

In 2005, a high school classmate of Arroyo’s told police that Arroyo had pressured her into performing oral sex several times across a period of four to six months in late 2004 and early 2005, according to police documents obtained by the Globe. The woman in that case has not responded to requests for an interview. On Wednesday, Arroyo said that case was deemed “unfounded,” though he did not offer proof. A police spokesman declined to comment on Arroyo’s claim, saying only that the case was closed without criminal charges.

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In 2007, a second teenage girl reported to police that she believed Arroyo may have raped her after she got inebriated at a party, the records show. A police report says that the girl “walked into [a district police station] and stated that ‘she thinks she may have been raped . . . by suspect, friend (Ricardo Arroyo).’”

At the beginning of his press conference Wednesday, Arroyo handed the podium over to attorney Brigite Melo-Cronin, who said she represents the woman in the 2007 case. Melo-Cronin read a statement in which the woman defends Arroyo. The statement called for voters to support Arroyo in his campaign for DA, and to reject Hayden, whom she also blamed for leaking the police reports.

“If there is ever a time to believe women, it is now,” the woman’s statement said. “Ricardo Arroyo never assaulted me, in my opinion the only person running for DA who has victimized me is Kevin Hayden.”

The accuser in the 2007 case shared 10 Facebook messages with a Globe reporter last week after the reporter reached out. Initially, she said the reporter was “very kind” but that she just wanted to be left alone. “I have nothing to do with Ricardo arroyo and do not want anything from when I was a minor associated with Ricardo arroyo thank you,” she wrote on Aug. 16. She then sent an unsolicited news tip about police corruption and said she might call the reporter another day.

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The next morning, after reporters advised Arroyo of the allegations against him, he expressed shock and said he knew nothing of either case. Reporters did not share the names of the alleged victims, and Arroyo did not ask.

About five hours after he left the interview, Arroyo contacted the woman who lodged the 2007 allegations. The woman sent two screenshots to a reporter, both unsolicited, showing Arroyo’s outreach.

About an hour and a half later, the woman wrote to the reporter again: “I did not speak to Ricardo because like I told you earlier I do not associate any assault from my youth with Ricardo. . . . For clarity purposes. Ricardo arroyo did not assault me ever.”

Arroyo told the Globe he had called the woman as part of an effort to reach out to old friends about what might have happened.

On Wednesday, the woman’s attorney, Melo-Cronin, characterized the correspondence with the Globe as “harassment,” and said the Globe had twisted her words.

She called the release of the records about the alleged assault a crime, and said she would be exploring her legal avenues.

The attorney also said that in July, a retired Boston police officer who now works as a private investigator came to the woman’s home and told her and her father they were “going to be a part of a political scandal.” The woman said she believed he was associated with the Hayden campaign.

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“I am not a political person,” she said in her statement. “However, this experience has made it clear that Kevin Hayden’s administration cannot be trusted with the power they hold and that they are unfit to serve in that role.”

Wu said she was troubled to learn of the allegations, but said she was waiting “to see how this story evolves” before making any decisions on whether she would continue to support Arroyo. She noted that state law prohibits the release of police reports describing sexual assault allegations.

“It’s tough when voters are presented with this type of information just days away from the election,” she said.

Other allies were firm in their continued support. Among the elected officials who stood by their endorsements of Arroyo was his Boston City Council colleague Kendra Lara. Lara, who said she was a sexual assault survivor, chalked up the allegations to dirty politics, saying Hayden’s campaign was “reaching and grasping at straws.” Arroyo, she said, is going to be a DA that will “stand up for justice and that’s going to represent our communities well.”

Many of Arroyo’s endorsers were silent on Wednesday, and did not return Globe requests for comment.

In addition to his political challenges, Arroyo is facing possible professional repercussions over the past investigations. When he applied for his law license in 2014, he claimed he had never been investigated for any crime — misdemeanor or felony.

Arroyo has said he never heard of the allegations until the Globe brought them to his attention, despite a police report from 2005 that explicitly states that a detective spoke with him and his attorney, and despite statements from Hayden’s office that the suspect in each case was informed at the time of the allegations. Arroyo has denied speaking to police. He criticized the Globe Wednesday for not quoting his attorney, Jose Vincenty, who represented Arroyo in 2005. Vincenty said in an e-mail that he was unaware of any “criminal complaint” and only represented Arroyo on school-related matters. No criminal complaint was ever issued in either case.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him @Danny__McDonald. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her @evanmallen. Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea.estes@globe.com. Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com Follow him @globeandrewryan.