Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Wednesday morning said she was troubled to learn of allegations that Ricardo Arroyo, a candidate for Suffolk district attorney, had been investigated twice — but not charged — for possible sexual assaults when he was a teenager.
At a ribbon-cutting event in Dorchester, Wu said she was waiting “to see how this story evolves” before making any decisions on whether she will continue to support the city councilor, whom she endorsed in a heated district attorney race. Arroyo is running against current Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden in the Sept. 6 primary.
Other politicians began to weigh in on the matter early Wednesday, hours after the investigations came to light in a Globe report. Former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, a Democrat from Massachusetts’ 4th District, rescinded his endorsement.
“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. “In light of this, Joe notified the campaign this morning that he is withdrawing his endorsement.”
The Globe reported Tuesday evening that Arroyo, 34, had faced allegations of sexual assault when he was 18 and 19 years old. The two cases were investigated by police and referred to the district attorney’s office, according to a Boston Police Department spokesman. Both cases were closed without criminal charges.
Arroyo has vehemently denied the allegations, saying that he only learned of the accusations and the investigations when he was questioned by the Globe. He alleged the records from the two cases were illegally obtained, incomplete, and omitted details showing that the allegations were unfounded.
“Let me be perfectly clear,” Arroyo said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I never did what was alleged, then or ever.”
“I was never made aware of either of these allegations,” he previously told the Globe. “I was not questioned by either Boston Public Schools or any law enforcement officials, or disciplined in any way in relation to these allegations or otherwise.”
Arroyo, a former public defender from Hyde Park, was elected city councilor in 2019. At 34, he is seeking to become among the youngest district attorneys in modern Massachusetts history, as well as the first Latino to hold the Suffolk DA post.
In May, Wu announced her backing of Arroyo, a fellow progressive with whom she had served with on the council. He went on to garner a host of other endorsements from top area politicians.
Wu had hailed his work as an elected leader, including his leadership of the council’s Government Operations committee. She also praised his service as a former public defender, and called him “the last line of defense” in an unjust system.
On Wednesday, Wu avoided talking in detail about the allegations against Arroyo or her reaction to them.
“I think we need to see what more comes out, as there’s still some details that are needed,” she said at an unrelated community event. Asked what details she was waiting for, she said it is “tough when voters are presented with this type of information just days away from an election.”
Earlier Wednesday morning, Wu appeared on a radio show “Java with Jimmy” and said state law prohibits the release of police reports describing sexual assault allegations. In that appearance, she did not mention Arroyo’s name, or her endorsement of him.
Wu is among a who’s who of Massachusetts progressive stalwarts that have backed Arroyo in the Suffolk DA’s race, including US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and US Representative Ayanna Pressley. Warren, Markey, Pressley, and others did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning.
Boston City Councilor at-large Erin Murphy, who has supported Hayden, posted a strongly worded statement to Twitter on Wednesday morning.
“If these allegations of sexual assault, lying, and misuse of power are true, I am disgusted,” she wrote. “I will not quietly stand by because that is the safe thing to do politically. My daughter and sons are watching me. ... I will help end the ‘Rape Culture’ that still exists in this country today.”
Arroyo is scheduled to speak at a press availability at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
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. Two years later, 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.
Arroyo’s statements that he never knew about either case are contradicted by a police report and official statements. In the 2005 case, the detective wrote that in her report she spoke to Arroyo and his attorney about the allegations, and current District Attorney Hayden said the suspect in both cases was informed at the time the allegations were made. Hayden did not name the suspect, but said there was only one suspect in each case, and the police reports name only Arroyo.
Shortly after the Globe presented the reports to Arroyo with the accusers’ names redacted last week, he reached out to the accuser in the 2007 case. She then told the Globe in a Facebook message: “For clarity purposes. Ricardo arroyo did not assault me ever.”