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Tito Jackson apologizes for pushing arm of WGBH reporter

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Tito Jackson is a member of Boston’s city council and a candidate for mayor.Jessica Rinaldi

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, a mayoral candidate, has apologized for grasping the arm of a female WGBH News reporter and pushing it aside during a brief interview Tuesday night, according to a statement from the public broadcaster.

The contact occurred at community meeting in Roxbury, when the reporter asked Jackson about his past work selling pharmaceuticals, WBGH wrote on its website .

"He then answered the question, concluding the brief interview," the statement said.

The reporter was not identified.

Jackson's two years working for New Jersey-based Alpharma, in which one of the drugs he promoted was an opioid painkiller, were also the subject of a Boston Globe story on Wednesday.


Jackson, who worked for the firm more than a decade ago, has made battling the opioid addiction epidemic a focal point in his mayoral campaign.

Jackson and his director of communications did not respond to requests for an interview on Wednesday evening.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, whom Jackson is challenging, briefly reacted to the incident prior to his monthly appearance Wednesday night on WBZ NewsRadio.

"It's never OK to put your hands on a woman," Walsh said to reporters outside the studio. "That's it. I mean, there's nothing else I can say there."

A Boston police spokesman said the reporter does not want to pursue the matter.

"We have looked into the assault on the WGBH employee," Officer Stephen McNulty said in a statement that did not identify Jackson. " . . . at this time the victim does not wish to pursue the matter further."

Jackson criticized the police investigation into the shooting of a 6-year-old in Roxbury Sunday night, and its handling of other non-fatal shootings, during Tuesday's meeting.

In its statement, WGBH said Jackson initially said in a statement that he had only "guided the reporter's microphone away from my face." But Jackson later called the station and apologized first to an editor, and later to the reporter, after station manager Philip L. Redo sent Jackson a letter formally complaining about his behavior, the station said.


"It is unacceptable conduct to engage with a member of the press physically — in any manner," Redo stated in the letter.

In his apology, Jackson told the editor, "I'm sorry. ... I never want anyone to feel that way. ... I apologize," the station said in its statement. "I really respect the long-term relationship with the station, and I should have picked up the phone and apologized from the get-go."

Jeanne Hopkins, a spokeswoman for WGBH, said both the station and reporter were satisfied with Jackson's apology.

She declined to name the reporter, but said she will continue to cover Jackson, should her duties call for it.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.