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Police investigate another accusation against prominent Bristol resident

David E. Barboza waved to paradegoers during the 234th Fourth of July Celebration Parade in Bristol, R.I.Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe

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BRISTOL, R.I. — A prominent local official accused of sexually abusing two boys and soliciting a third decades ago is now facing accusations from a fourth man.

Interim Bristol Police Chief Brian Burke said that another person reported allegations against David E. Barboza on Thursday, shortly after the Globe published past accusations.

The chief declined to discuss the nature of the allegations or when they occurred, but said police were working with the State Police on the investigation.


“I would highly encourage anyone who was a victim of sexual misconduct to come forward and report,” Burke said Friday. “Any complaints regarding this matter will be investigated thoroughly and professionally.”

The new allegations continue an investigation that the State Police began in 2014, Burke said.

That was when a local man, Robert Powers, reported that Barboza had raped him when he was 9 or 10 years old in the mid-1970s. Barboza was a Bristol police officer at the time.

The latest accuser was motivated to come forward after publicity about the past allegations against Barboza.

Powers said the man contacted him after seeing him speak publicly in the Globe. Powers said the man told him that Barboza had also assaulted him, in the basement at St. Mary’s Church in 1992.

Powers said the man told him he went to the Bristol police on Thursday. “He said, ‘You showed so much courage, it helped me to go out and do it too.’ ”

In addition to Powers’s allegations, the Globe detailed two other encounters this week.

A Bristol man also told the State Police in 2014 that Barboza molested him multiple times at a fire station in the 1970s, starting when he was 6 and Barboza was a volunteer firefighter. The man told the Globe that he’d reported Barboza to multiple local authorities over the last 40 years, to no avail.


Barboza was arrested once, in 1982, when Bristol police charged him with soliciting a 14-year-old boy. Barboza was working for the state fire marshal’s office at the time. The charge was dismissed without prejudice but never refiled.

Over the next several decades, Barboza went on to become a powerful local politician, serving on multiple boards and commissions, including the town council, where he was a liaison with the police and fire departments. He was administrative assistant at St. Mary’s Church and director of the cemetery.

When Barboza was chosen to be chief marshal of the Fourth of July parade in 2014, Powers was outraged and contacted the police. He filed a civil lawsuit against Barboza this past winter.

After the Globe investigation, Barboza, 64, lost his job at St. Mary’s Church, and the town was looking at rescinding his life membership in the volunteer fire department.

Some residents said they were planning to hold a peaceful demonstration in support of victims outside of Barboza’s home in downtown Bristol on Monday evening.

Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com