Breaking her long silence, a woman who was illegally strip searched in 1991 by a Wareham police officer under the command of then-police sergeant Jeffrey D. Perry said that Perry was nearby during the assault, failed to stop it, and tried to cover it up after the fact.
The accusation against Perry, now a congressional candidate, came Tuesday in a statement from Lisa Allen, who was 14 when she was assaulted near a Wareham cranberry bog.
"He had to hear me screaming and crying. Instead of helping me, Jeff Perry denied anything happened," said Allen, who released the statement to the Globe through her lawyer.
Scott Flanagan, the officer who conducted the strip search and a similar assault on a different girl in 1992, admitted to the crimes and was convicted in 1993 of civil rights violations and indecent assault of a child.
But Perry initially said that he was in a position to see and hear everything that happened that night and that the assault never occurred.
Ever since Flanagan's guilty plea, Perry, now a state representative from Sandwich and the Republican nominee in the 10th Congressional District, has faced questions about his role and statements in the case.
"Perry did not care about protecting teenaged girls in Wareham from police officer Flanagan," Allen said. "Jeff Perry cared only about protecting police officer Flanagan."
Perry was not charged in either the 1991 or 1992 assault. He resigned from the Wareham police 17 days after Flanagan was indicted, but has said his leaving the force was unrelated to the strip search cases.
Asked for comment, Perry did not directly address Allen's charges that he did nothing to stop the assault, but he said he sympathized with her.
"What happened to Lisa Allen was wrong and should never happen to anyone," Perry said in a statement. "Scott Flanagan's actions were despicable and a betrayal of the oath he took as a police officer. My heart goes out to Ms. Allen for what she was put through by Scott Flanagan that night."
In sworn testimony for a civil suit filed by the girl's family, Perry said he had been on the scene at the Wareham cranberry bog, in a position to see and hear everything. But Perry said in an interview with the Globe earlier this year that whatever happened that night "did not occur in my presence," a discrepancy he attributed to a faulty memory.
Perry was about 15 feet away at the time, according to a State Police investigation of the incident. During the search, a group of officers stood close by, according to Allen's testimony in 1995.
"They were close enough to hear -- for me to hear them, you know; clear, but not close enough, you know, to where I knew where they were," she said at that time. "Yes, they were there. They were right there."
The case has become a political liability for Perry and has featured prominently in attack ads by his Democratic opponent, Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating. The two men are locked in a tight race to succeed US Representative William D. Delahunt of Quincy, who is retiring.
Perry has also acknowledged misstating the facts of the 1992 strip search on his bar application, in which he said the victim had been arrested. Neither of the girls was arrested. The family of the second victim won a lawsuit against the town of Wareham, and Allen's family settled out of court.
Allen said that the possibility that Perry could be elected to Congress had pushed her to speak out. The Globe agreed to identify Allen by her maiden name with her permission, but is not naming the other victim.
"I cannot stand by silently any longer while what happened to me is discussed in the press," Allen said. "It upsets me that Jeff Perry can run for Congress after what he did to me when I was 14 years old."
Allen, now in her early 30s, lives in the 10th Congressional District, and family members have said the assault affected her and her family tremendously. Having it dredged up as Perry runs for Congress has been exceptionally painful, family members have said. Allen's father told the Globe earlier this year that he was angry at Perry, saying, "There's nowhere he should run except out of town."
The events occurred May 22, 1991, when Allen and three boys were socializing around two parked cars when three police cruisers pulled up, according to a Wareham police report. Perry, the patrol supervisor that night; Flanagan; and another officer, Stephen Kearney, approached the teenagers.
Perry and Flanagan found that one of the boys had marijuana and arrested him. Flanagan asked Allen if she had any drugs, then ordered her to lift her top and bra and then unbutton her pants, according to a transcript of Flanagan's guilty plea. Allen asked that she be searched by a female officer and began screaming and yelling when Flanagan went ahead anyway.
"Without any warning or notice to the victim, the defendant then put his hand down the front of her jeans inside her underwear feeling that area of her body," prosecutors said in outlining the charges, to which Flanagan then pleaded guilty.
No drugs were found.
In her statement, Allen also criticized former Wareham police chief Thomas A. Joyce, who recently recorded a television ad endorsing Perry. She accused the former chief of also being complicit in covering up the strip search.
"Chief Joyce now says Jeff Perry was a good cop," Allen said. "Neither Chief Joyce nor Sergeant Perry were good cops. Chief Joyce refused to investigate when my mother complained about what Flanagan did to me. Like Perry, Chief Joyce protected police officer Flanagan instead of protecting teenaged girls from police officer Flanagan."
Joyce did not respond to requests for comment.
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