A Lowell police officer was charged Thursday on allegations he repeatedly raped a 16-year-old homeless girl while he was working in a community outreach program three years ago, prosecutors said.
Kevin Garneau, 49, of Pelham, New Hampshire, was arraigned on two counts of rape in Middlesex Superior Court following a department investigation that began earlier this year, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office said in a statement.
He was released on personal recognizance and ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device and to stay away from the victim, according to officials.
“I’m astonished and deeply disappointed. I acted as soon as we were made aware of these allegations,” police Superintendent Raymond Kelly Richardson said in a statement. “This is not what the men and women of the Lowell PD represent. They police legally, respectfully, and compassionately.”
Prosecutors said in 2016, Garneau allegedly assaulted the girl while she was living in a tent in a part of the city that was set aside to provide shelter to the local homeless population. Garneau, at the time, was a member of a community group that provided help to the homeless, including people struggling with substance abuse, according to the DA’s statement.
“The defendant is alleged to have entered the victim’s tent and told her there were warrants out for her arrest, but in exchange for her providing sexual services he would not arrest her,” the statement says. “The defendant is alleged to have sexually assaulted the victim several more times in the months after the initial assault.”
Lowell police first became aware of the allegations against Garneau in January and “immediately launched an investigation,” officials said.
A 19-year department veteran, Garneau was assigned administrative duties while investigators carried out their review, according to a statement from Lowell police.
Authorities contacted the district attorney’s office last month at the end of the internal probe. Garneau is currently on unpaid administrative leave as the case continues, police officials said.
The department did not comment any further Thursday, citing the pending case.
Garneau was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday. He is due back in court on July 23.