Politics

Judge grants Arroyo request to release sexual assault allegation files

The files must be released by Friday at 2 p.m.

Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo leaves Suffolk Superior Court in Boston after his hearing request. David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

A judge ruled Thursday that police filings regarding sexual assault allegations against Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo must be released to him by Friday at 2 p.m. Arroyo, a candidate for Suffolk district attorney, appeared before the judge earlier in the day to request access to the files. Thursday evening, the judge sided with Arroyo.

“All allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously and I will do so as District Attorney. I understand the pain and the harm that sexual assault causes. I care deeply for survivors. Although these allegations are unfounded, I know this has been difficult to witness for so many members of our community. I believe our systems should deliver justice through due process and provide spaces to be heard,” Arroyo said in a statement. “I want to assure you that I am committed to protecting the identity of the individual in these files.”

Arroyo’s race with current Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden has been marked by controversy, with each candidate attacking the other’s character as the Sept. 6 Democratic primary nears. 

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Arroyo’s campaign was derailed when a Boston Globe piece in late August revealed that he had been the subject of two sexual assault investigations as a teenager — one in 2005 and the other in 2007. 

He was never charged, and has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. Arroyo also said he was never questioned by police about the investigations, and learned of them for the first time last month. However, police records obtained by the Globe showed that Arroyo did speak to detectives. 

Through an attorney, the accuser in the 2007 case defended Arroyo, saying that she was never assaulted and that voters should continue to support him. 

But in an interview with the Globe earlier this week, the accuser in the 2005 case said that Arroyo sexually assaulted her, manipulated her, and threatened her while they were classmates in high school. 

Since the allegations came to light, police have refused Arroyo’s requests to see the files pertaining to these investigations, citing privacy laws that protect sexual assault victims. Arroyo said in court Thursday that he believes the police files will show that the allegations against him were unfounded, according to the Globe

Now, redacted versions of the files pertaining to the 2005 case will be released to Arroyo. 

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“In light of the apparent and immediate impact on an ongoing primary election and Arroyo’s ability to serve effectively in his current role, I find that Arroyo will suffer irreparable harm if he is denied the requested materials to respond to the public allegation,” Suffolk Superior Judge Debra Squires-Lee ruled

Since the accuser already spoke with media members and made public information about the case, Squires-Lee added that there was “no additional risk of invasion of privacy so long as all identifying information and all statements of the complaining witness are redacted.”

Earlier this week, high profile politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley rescinded their endorsements of Arroyo. 

Hayden, meanwhile, has faced criticism regarding his handling of police misconduct allegations.

The two faced off in a debate Wednesday, where they addressed the controversies surrounding each of their campaigns.  

After Squires-Lee announced her decision, an attorney for the woman who accused Arroyo in 2005 said that he was disappointed with the outcome. 
“There is absolutely nothing in the file that suggests in any way that she was not credible,” the attorney, Leonard H. Kesten said, according to the Globe. “What we know is that in 2005, a single prosecutor concluded that no crime was committed merely because there was no indication of threats or violence reported. We are grateful that the concept of what constitutes rape and sexual assault has changed since 2005: no means no.”

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