Somerville woman said she is telling truth about alleged assault by Representative Carlos Henriquez
A relationship that began with an interview for a college assignment ended in domestic violence with a state lawmaker, Katherine Gonzalves and her legal team said Wednesday.
Gonzalves, who has accused Representative Carlos Henriquez of beating, choking, and holding her against her will early Sunday morning, insisted that she has told the truth about the alleged attack. Now her lawyers say, Gonzalves is being demonized by supporters of her alleged abuser.
“I have told the truth about this incident and will continue to do so,’’ Gonzalves, of Somerville, said at a press conference in Boston. “I am not afraid to speak out and have my voice heard. I am here because I did nothing wrong.’’
Gonzalves, 23, said she first met the 35-year-old Dorchester Democrat at an event at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in February. She later reached out to Henriquez to interview him for a paper on the state’s proposed “three strikes” law that she was writing for a course at Middlesex Community College.
After the interview, Henriquez reached out to Gonzalves and asked her to meet, which was the beginning of their romantic relationship, her lawyers said.
Gonzalves obtained a restraining order this week in Somerville District Court barring Henriquez from having contact with her. While filing the order, she was referred to Boston attorney Richard E. Brody for help in dealing with the court system, said Brody’s law partner, Leonard H. Kesten.
Speaking at Brody’s office on Wednesday, Gonzalves read a prepared statement as her mother and the attorneys looked on.
“Two days ago, I was a young woman who was living her life in peace. I was involved with a man who, I believed, cared about me,’’ she said. “I was looking forward to resuming my education in the fall. Suddenly, I was thrust into a situation that I, like many others, never anticipated.’’
Gonzalves said that since Henriquez was arrested by Boston police early Sunday morning based on her allegations, “my credibility has been questioned, and my private life became the topic of speculation. Why? Because the man I was dating hit me and he is a public figure.’’
Henriquez pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment Monday and is free on $1,000 cash bail.
In a statement on Monday, Henriquez, who is serving his first term as a state representative, said the charges “are completely untrue,” predicting that he would be “vindicated of all charges.’’
Calls and emails to Henriquez’s office on Wednesday were not returned, while his cellphone has been altered to no longer accept incoming calls. His attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, of Boston, did not return calls and emails for comment on Wednesday.
Henriquez and his supporters have cited his work with domestic violence awareness as evidence that the alleged attack goes against his beliefs, upbringing, and character.
Those claims, Brody said, are irrelevant.
“Unfortunately, it’s not just people who look like batterers who are batterers. Good people hit their spouses, bad people hit their spouses,” he said.
Gonzalves obtained the restraining order with the help of Somerville police on Tuesday through what is known as an “ex parte” — or one-party — hearing which Henriquez did not attend or participate in, according to her lawyers. The order remains in effect for 10 days.
In a sworn affidavit, Gonzalves wrote that Henriquez “verbally & physically abused me while he was in his vehicle. He punched, slapped & strangled me. He would not allow me to leave his car.’’
In a Boston police report filed Monday in Roxbury Municipal Court, Gonzalves told officers that she and Henriquez were friends and that they had embarked on an intimate relationship within the past month.
Gonzalves also told police that Henriquez picked her up at her mother’s home in Arlington around 2 a.m., telling her that he wanted to discuss their relationship.
She said the conversation turned tense after they pulled away in the car, according to the police report. Gonzalves said she then asked to be taken home, prompting Henriquez to ask, “I came here all the way for what?”
Henriquez spent the next two hours driving around Boston, including along Storrow Drive and into the Fenway neighborhood, allegedly assaulting her and refusing to let her out of the vehicle, she told authorities.
“Ms. Gonzalves stated that Mr. Henriquez had punched her with a closed fist repeatedly and strangled her while she was in his motor vehicle,’’ said the police report. “Ms. Gonzalves stated that every time she attempted to jump out of the car, the suspect grabbed her wrists to prevent her from jumping out of the motor vehicle.’’
During the time in the car, police said, Henriquez allegedly seized her cellphone and removed the battery and SIM card.
As the car slowed on Forsyth Street, near Northeastern University, Gonzalves told police, she jumped out.
“Officers observed scuff marks on Ms. Gonzalves’ right shin and multiple bruises on her arms and wrists,’’ police wrote in their report.Wesley Lowery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com.
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