Saturday, 2:15 PM
Prosecutor: Senator gave name of fellow lawmaker during arrest
By Brian R. Ballou, Michael Levenson, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
LOWELL -- Senator J. James Marzilli Jr. used the name of a fellow lawmaker when he was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trying to grope a woman on a park bench, telling police he was Martin Walsh, who is a state representative from Dorchester, a prosecutor said today in court.
State Senator James Marzilli
Police threatened Marzilli with pepper spray after a foot chase through downtown Lowell because he would not put his hands above his head, according to a police report read in court by prosecutor Richard M. Mucci. Marzilli, 50, initially told officers his name was Martin Walsh, he lived in Medford, and was born in 1958. However, he soon revealed his true identity and told police, "you don't understand ... I'm a state senator.''
"The defendant began to cry," Mucci said, reading from the police report. "He said they could not arrest him, that his life was over."
Marzilli appeared stoic and said nothing when he was arraigned today in Lowell District Court on charges of attempting to commit an indecent assault, simple assault and battery, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and disorderly conduct. Marzilli was released Tuesday night on $1,500 cash bail. His lawyer, Terrence W. Kennedy of Everett, said after the arrest that his client "completely and totally denies" the allegations, which he called ridiculous.
Mucci said in court that another woman contacted police and alleged that a man matching Marzilli’s description had approached her in Lowell Tuesday and said: “Oh baby you are so beautiful. Your body is so perfect.”
The woman told police that the man followed her until she told him to go to Merrimack Street and find a prostitute, Mucci said. The woman identified the man as Marzilli in a photo lineup, and he was charged today with annoying and accosting a person of the opposite sex.
Walsh said today that he has known Marzilli casually as a colleague for 11 years and felt badly for his wife, family, and his alleged victims. He said he was “disappointed” when he heard that Marzilli told police his name was Martin Walsh.
“Obviously I don’t want my name associated with that,” Walsh said. "It’s crazy – he could have used any name.”
Walsh added: “It seems like he needs some help, and I hope he gets it.”
This was the second time since April that allegations have surfaced against Marzilli, a Democratic lawmaker from Arlington who has been a longtime champion of liberal causes. Judy Meredith, a veteran Beacon Hill lobbyist, said she has known Marzilli since the 1980s and described him as a "funny, tough guy," and a "fighter" for teachers' unions, environmental activists, and human services groups.
“I have no idea what's going on with him,” Meredith said today. “My heart bleeds for him and his family. It happens twice in a row, and red flags go up, and you hope he’s taking care of himself.”
Meredith continued: “Right now a lot of people are assuming the worst. I’m not. And as far as I have ever dealt with him, he’s been an honest, kind, and effective public official – and principled.”
Last month, the Middlesex district attorney's office decided there was not enough evidence to charge him with inappropriately touching a woman in Arlington on April 6. In a call to police at about 1:15 a.m., the woman told officers that she met Marzilli at a fund-raiser, that he offered her a ride home, and that he had touched her inappropriately.
After interviewing the woman and multiple witnesses at the fund-raiser, prosecutors decided on May 13 that there was no evidence to charge Marzilli with a crime. Kennedy said at the time that Marzilli was "extremely relieved" by the decision and that the senator had always maintained his innocence.
According to the police report read by Mucci today in court, officers on routine patrol were flagged down by two maintenance workers who said a man in a shirt and tie had just accosted a woman on a park bench on Middle Street. The man was later identified as Marzilli.
The woman told police that a week earlier she had seen Marzilli in downtown Lowell wearing ragged clothes and looking as if he were homeless, Mucci said. The woman said on Tuesday that Marzilli asked her whether she remembered him and he tried to flirt with her. Mucci said that Marzilli then tried to grab the woman's genitals.
Police found Marzilli shortly after the alleged incident and he took off, disrupting traffic as he ran the wrong direction up a one-way street, Mucci said. People at a busy hot dog stand had to dive out of the way as Marzilli ran on the sidewalk, Mucci said.
The chase ended in the Market Street garage, where Marzilli had been darting in and out of parked cars, Mucci said. After claiming to be Martin Walsh, Marzilli told police they were ruining his life.
"I can't believe this is happening," Marzilli said, according to the police report. "She was flirting with me, I was flirting with her."
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