boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

Hillman voices regret on policy

Former colonel introduced as Healey's choice

Reed V. Hillman was introduced yesterday as Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey's running mate, Hillman also accepted responsibility for a 1997 policy that kept pregnant state troopers off the road.
Reed V. Hillman was introduced yesterday as Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey's running mate, Hillman also accepted responsibility for a 1997 policy that kept pregnant state troopers off the road. (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

Reed V. Hillman, a former State Police colonel announced yesterday as Kerry Healey's running mate in the governor's race, justified a 1997 policy to keep pregnant state troopers off the road by saying he wanted to protect the women and their fetuses and was also overheard referring to four women suing over the policy as ''broads," according to affidavits filed in the case.

A February 2001 affidavit by Megan McAuliffe, who worked in the State Police human resources department, states that Hillman said he felt that pregnant troopers should not be on the road and wanted them assigned to lighter duty and that the State Police should not be paying them overtime. McAuliffe's affidavit states that Hillman ''also made comments about the pregnant troopers that were causing trouble, calling them broads."

A second affidavit filed in February 2001 by a sergeant, Audrey Blake, states that Hillman wanted to protect ''the pregnant trooper and the unborn child by putting her on [Temporary Modified Duty] status."

Hillman, who led the State Police from 1996 to 1999, was criticized at the time for approving the policy, which his staff crafted. It let the agency's physician decide when pregnant and injured troopers should be taken off full duty. Four female troopers successfully sued the State Police over the policy, winning $1 million in punitive damages. The women who gave the affidavits were not plaintiffs in the suit.

The policy was changed after the women made their complaints public.

In a sworn deposition with the plaintiffs' lawyers, Hillman denied that the safety of the fetuses was a concern. ''Not to my knowledge," he was quoted as saying. He also said in the deposition that there was no reason pregnancy would prohibit a female trooper from driving, but that while in uniform and in a cruiser she would be expected to respond to all situations that arise, at a time when she may be unable to perform those functions.

Healey's campaign manager, Tim O'Brien, said last night that Hillman did not refer to the plaintiffs as ''broads."

''It was not a comment that Reed Hillman made," he said.

During a press conference with Healey yesterday, when the GOP candidate formally announced that he would be her running mate, Hillman took responsibility for the policy and said he regretted establishing it.

''At the time, I thought we made the right decision," Hillman said. He had defended the policy as recently as 2002, after a Suffolk Superior Court jury found for the four women.

''If I could live my life again, I would do many things differently, and that would be one," he said.

Questions about Hillman's role in developing and defending the policy prompted Healey to reassure women voters that her running mate had their interests at heart.

''I have no doubt at all that women can trust Reed Hillman to fight for their rights, to work for victims rights of all kinds for all people in this Commonwealth," Healey said. ''And he wouldn't be standing here with me today if I didn't believe that deeply."

Other women spoke out yesterday in support of Hillman and his policies. Jean Haertl -- a member of the Governor's Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence, on which Healey serves as chairwoman -- said she got to know Hillman before he was the colonel of the State Police, when she was working as an advocate for battered women.

''He was one of the staunchest and most steadfast advocates for victims of domestic violence that I've ever met," she said. ''He gets it. He's real."

During the press conference, Healey said she agreed that the policy needed to be changed, adding that she believes it should be left up to pregnant State Police troopers and their doctors to determine whether they need to cut back on their workload.

Hillman acknowledged in April 1998 that his agency could be fairly criticized as having been inhospitable for women employees. ''We have not done the job to make this as friendly a workplace as it should be for females," Hillman told the Globe at the time.

Governor Paul Cellucci ordered the Executive Office of Public Safety to rewrite the rules on pregnant troopers after the four women filed complaints with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Yesterday's press conference, held at Healey's campaign headquarters, served as the formal announcement of Hillman's candidacy. But at several points it seemed designed to blunt any negative effect stories about Hillman's State Police tenure could have.

Hillman, 57, made a point of mentioning his support for a woman's right to choose abortion, though reproductive rights groups give him a mixed review on that issue. And Hillman, who served in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2004, said he joined the Legislature to strengthen laws against domestic abuse, among other crimes.

He also showed that he will bring a dose of humor to the campaign.

''I was told Kerry's campaign people were looking to find another Mitt Romney -- someone tall, Hollywood-handsome, rich, and with a full head of dark hair," Hillman said to the Republican crowd, with Romney in the front row. ''They struck out."

But his appearance had strategic goals, too. For example, Hillman lives in Sturbridge, and both he and Healey made sure to send the message to voters that they knew Massachusetts extended beyond Route 128.

Hillman also sought to cast his past in terms Republicans love to hear: He talked about joining the working class at 19, working his way through college and law school, and rising to head the State Police.

Hillman has to collect 10,000 signatures by early May to get on the ballot. He has also been under consideration by the White House to become the US marshal for Massachusetts, but yesterday he said he had withdrawn his name to focus on the campaign. Hillman will forgo his $105,000 annual state pension if elected, campaign advisers said.

There are also four Democrats vying for lieutenant governor: Mayor Tim Murray of Worcester; Deborah Goldberg, a former Brookline selectwoman whose family founded Stop & Shop; Andrea Silbert of Harwich, the cofounder of a nonprofit training center for entrepreneurs; and a Cohasset psychiatrist, Sam Kelley.

Republicans were excited at the choice of Hillman.

''I think the world of him," said Representative Lewis Evangelidis, a Holden Republican who sat next to Hillman in the House. ''I'm very confident the lieutenant governor could not have made a better choice."

Asked to comment on the ticket trying to succeed his Republican administration, Romney said, ''I support this team 100 percent."

Scott Helman can be reached at shelman@globe.com. Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at ebbert@globe.com.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives