fb-pixelWoman who accused Suffolk DA candidate Ricardo Arroyo of sexual assault breaks silence: ‘The lies. ... It makes me sick’ - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Woman who accused Suffolk DA candidate Ricardo Arroyo of sexual assault breaks silence: ‘The lies. ... It makes me sick’

“These are serious allegations and, as I said before, they are false,” Arroyo said.

Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo held a press conference to address accusations of sexual assault. Arroyo is running to become Suffolk County's next district attorney.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

The woman who told Boston Police that Ricardo Arroyo sexually assaulted her in 2005 when they were high school classmates never wanted to talk publicly about it. She said that at the time, she was afraid of what Arroyo might do when they were teenagers, and now is afraid of what he might do if he wins his campaign for Suffolk district attorney.

But last week, Arroyo held a press conference to push back against a Globe story that revealed he had twice been accused of possible sexual assault in 2005 and 2007, though never charged. Arroyo declared that he never assaulted anyone and was never informed of any investigations.

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The 34-year-old Boston city councilor suggested he was being targeted by a political smear campaign. Many of his most visible supporters — including US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu — stuck by him.

The woman said she was so shocked by Arroyo’s response that she felt compelled to speak out.

“It makes me feel sick, sick to my stomach,” she said in an interview Monday night, shortly after reaching out to the Globe. “I see so many people continuing to endorse him without finding out more. As the potential DA, women are not going to feel safe calling his office. Their cases won’t get heard. ... All those people will be afraid to come forward.”

The woman said she stands by everything she alleged to police about Arroyo in 2005: the coerced sex, the mental manipulation, threats she said he sent her. She said she didn’t pursue the matter with prosecutors years ago because it appeared to her that officials at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science heard her concerns and immediately took action: She didn’t see Arroyo at school for the rest of the school year.

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“It had been traumatic,” she said. “It was easier to finish school and do what I had to do. ... I just wanted to finish high school and go to college.”

Arroyo has said none of the accusations are true, and that he was never told about them at the time.

“These are serious allegations and, as I said before, they are false,” Arroyo said in a statement Tuesday evening.

His statements — when he first spoke with the Globe, at his news conference after the Globe published its story, and on Tuesday after his accuser spoke out — are at odds with information contained in a police report, as well as statements from law enforcement officials

Arroyo said his attorney has sought an emergency order in Suffolk Superior Court that would give him access to the investigative files, which he believes will show that the 2005 allegations were unfounded.

“Instead of taking my word, I want the facts to be public and for people to see the determination made by law enforcement at the time,” Arroyo said in the statement. “If the Superior Court grants me access to these files I believe they will prove that law enforcement determined these claims were unfounded.”

Arroyo also shared several responses to records requests he filed with the Boston Police Department, which denied him access to the files, citing privacy laws that protect sexual assault victims. One response notes that the word “unfounded” does appear in the files, but it offers no information about the context in which the word appears.

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Boston Police investigated two sets of sexual assault allegations against Arroyo: one in 2005, the other in 2007. In the second case, a 16-year-old girl told police she was drinking at a party and believed that Arroyo, then 19, may have raped her. That investigation was closed without criminal charges, and last week, the woman who made the original allegation said Arroyo did not rape her.

The revelations about Arroyo have roiled city politics and the Suffolk DA’s race in which Arroyo is pitted against current District Attorney Kevin Hayden in a Sept. 6 primary. On Friday, a fellow city councilor filed a proposed order demanding the city release records related to the investigations, and on Monday, the City Council president stripped Arroyo of his vice presidency and a pair of key chairmanships. Former US representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, a Democrat from Massachusetts’ Fourth District, has rescinded his endorsement of Arroyo for DA, along with the Iron Workers union. But other Arroyo supporters, including Representative Ayanna Pressley, have dodged questions about him, saying they are waiting for more information to come out.

Police reports obtained by the Globe detail the beginnings of the two sexual assault investigations. Both the Boston Police and the DA’s office confirmed the investigations took place.

After the Globe’s initial story published, Arroyo addressed the public, accompanied by an attorney representing the woman from the 2007 case. Through the attorney, the woman suggested the documents were leaked as part of a political hit job and endorsed Arroyo for DA. She said Arroyo did not assault her.

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Then on Monday, the woman in the 2005 case reached out to the Globe and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Globe does not identify survivors of alleged sexual assault.

While she declined to discuss the details of the alleged assaults, the woman said that what she told police in 2005 was true.

“Yes,” she said in an interview, “he did it.”

The woman also said she has not spoken to anyone from either campaign.

Police documents obtained by the Globe show that the woman, then 17, told school officials in November 2005 that Arroyo, who she considered a good friend, pressured her into performing oral sex several times in late 2004 and early 2005, while they were juniors in high school. School officials documented the allegations and referred the matter to the Boston Police Department’s Sexual Assault Unit.

Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in July opened his district attorney campaign office in Jamaica Plain. The event featured friends, several politicians, and family, including his father Felix D. Arroyo, at right.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The woman said Arroyo was verbally and mentally abusive, and that she was afraid to speak out because she knew he came from a prominent political family. Arroyo’s father, Felix Arroyo, was at the time a Boston city councilor and the former president of the School Committee.

She kept the alleged assaults a secret for months, until, she said, she believed Arroyo had hacked into her e-mail account. She said he also sent her threats. She said she provided police with two e-mails that she said were from Arroyo. Neither e-mail, however, has the sender’s name on it. They are both dated Nov. 2, 2005, the day before police filed their first report, which mentions threatening e-mails.

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“u got it comin BITCH,” reads the subject line of one of the e-mails, which the Globe obtained along with the police reports. The Globe did not previously publish the e-mails themselves because the documents do not list the name of the sender, and the woman had not yet spoken to the Globe and directly shared her belief that Arroyo sent them.

On Monday the woman said the e-mails were the ones referenced in the police report.

“your a [expletive] undeserving of respect and hopefully you’ll die of your own accord,” one of the e-mails reads. “watch ur back [expletive] and understand ur mine you WILL NOT make it through this school year.”

Arroyo said Tuesday that he didn’t write or send these e-mails. “The language in those emails are abhorrent and is nothing I would ever say or have ever said about any individual in written communication or verbally,” he said in a released statement.

Arroyo also released a Police Department response to his records request in which the agency says it found no “emails from Ricardo Arroyo” to either woman.

The woman said she went to school administrators and the police the day after she received the e-mails. The next day, Arroyo was not in school, she said. As far as she knew, he didn’t come back to school for the rest of the year, though she saw him briefly the following school year, after she had graduated and went back to visit her former teachers.

The woman said she found it hard to believe Arroyo’s claim that he never knew she made allegations against him.

Arroyo told the Globe he dropped out of school to take care of his mother, who was dealing with health issues. He said he had never been disciplined by the school and did not leave because of the 2005 allegations, which he said he did not even know about until this month. He said he left school in 2007 of his own volition.

A police report from the 2005 case says that a detective spoke to Arroyo, his mother, and an attorney representing him. Arroyo has said he never spoke to police and the attorney represented him in academic matters only.

Boston school officials have declined to comment on how the assault allegation was handled; the headmaster at the time, Joel Stembridge, has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Arroyo is listed as a senior in both the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 yearbooks. Records from the Boston Public Schools show that Arroyo didn’t officially drop out until June 30, 2007, more than a year and a half after the 2005 allegation was made. Arroyo later obtained his GED.

Once the woman came forward, Boston Police referred her case to prosecutors, who investigated and closed the case after eight months without criminal charges, according to Hayden’s office. In both the 2005 and 2007 investigations, Hayden’s office said, the lone suspect — Arroyo — was notified. The woman from the 2005 case said Monday that she did not remember exactly what happened to end the criminal case.

“We didn’t press charges,” she said. “They made it easy when he disappeared.”

The woman said that in the years since the alleged assaults, she had tried to put the trauma behind her. When the Globe first started looking into Arroyo’s past, a reporter hand-delivered a letter to her home, asking if she wanted to discuss the matter. The woman didn’t respond, she said Monday, because she wanted to leave the incident in her past.

“I just want to live my life and move on,” she said.

But watching Arroyo deny everything in the week since the story first broke, she said, changed her mind. She said she felt sick and scared — not for herself, but for other victims who would rely on Arroyo to prosecute their abusers if he were elected DA.

“I don’t want him to think I fear him,” she said. “I fear what could happen if he gets into a position of power.”


Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea.estes@globe.com. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her @evanmallen.