A Lowell police officer was arraigned on rape charges Thursday in Middlesex Superior Court in connection with a series of sexual assaults of a 16-year-old homeless girl that he allegedly committed while on duty in the city.
Kevin Garneau, 49, of Pelham, N.H., was released on personal recognizance and ordered to be placed on a GPS monitoring device and to stay away from the accuser, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office said in a statement.
Prosecutors said the victim was 16 years old and homeless when the alleged sexual assaults occurred. In 2016, she was living in a tent in an area that was set up to provide shelter to the city’s homeless population and Garneau was working as part of a community outreach group to provide assistance to the homeless.
Garneau allegedly went into the victim’s tent and told her there were warrants out for her arrest, but in exchange for her sexual services he would not arrest her. Garneau was accused of sexually assaulting the victim several times in the months after the initial assault, prosecutors said.
Garneau is a 19-year veteran of the Lowell Police Department and is currently on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case. Garneau was known for his outreach work with homeless drug addicts and was even featured in an October 2016 article in the Globe about the city’s Community Opioid Outreach Program.
When Lowell police learned of the allegations in January 2019, the department immediately launched an internal investigation and assigned Garneau to administrative duties, police said. As a result of that investigation, the district attorney’s office was notified in May, police said.
Lowell Police Superintendent Raymond Kelly Richardson said he was “astonished and deeply disappointed” by the allegations.
“I acted as soon as we were made aware of these allegations,” he said in a statement. “This is not what the men and women of the Lowell PD represent. They police legally, respectfully and compassionately.”
Garneau was indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury Wednesday and has been charged with two counts of rape, prosecutors said.
His next court hearing is slated for July 23.