A Peabody police officer is charged with indecently assaulting a female relative when the child was 10 years old, and allegedly continued to do so for the next four years until a comment he made to a fellow officer triggered an investigation, authorities said today.
Officer Frederick Wojick was arraigned in Peabody District Court today on six counts of indecent assault and battery and one count of disseminating pornography to a minor. Wojick, 48, pleaded not guilty to all charges. He was released on personal recognizance by Judge Matthew Nestor, who ordered Wojick to stay away from the girl and her mother.
According to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office, the female relative alleges the last of the incidents took place three years ago. The female relative is now 17 years old, prosecutors said.
The victim allegedly disclosed that Wojick had repeatedly touched her or forced her to touch him, and that he showed her pornography and made sexually suggestive comments to her.
Prosecutors also said that Wojick allegedly triggered the investigation himself when he made “statements’’ to a fellow officer. Based on those statements, Peabody police launched an investigation and then asked State Police assigned to Blodgett’s office for their assistance.
But Wojick’s defense attorney, Thomas Drechsler, said his client is “falsely accused’’ by the female relative, who is angry at Wojick because the officer has repeatedly objected to the relative’s current boyfriend.
Drechsler said in court that Wojick and the relative have had a strained relationship in recent years.
“They were arguing about the fact that she was with a boyfriend that he doesn’t approve of because the boyfriend had been arrested,’’ said Drechsler. “That’s what caused her to be angry with him, and then all of sudden, she comes up with these allegations.’’
Drechsler said Wojick’s comments to another officer stem from Wojick’s attempt to get stress counseling through the department as a result of the tension between him and the female relative.
“He denies everything,’’ said Drechsler, adding that Wojick worked as a police officer for the town of Essex and UMass-Lowell before joining his hometown department 12 years ago.
“He’s been a hardworking and respected police officer… There’s never been a complaint of his nature before,’’ said Drechsler. “He’s falsely accused.’’
In a statement, Peabody Police Chief Robert Champagne said Wojick’s service weapon and department identification had been taken by the department. He said Wojick was placed on suspension Thursday after his arrest.
“The Peabody Police Department takes any allegation against a member of the department very seriously,’’ Champagne said in the release.
Wojick was arrested at a friend’s home in Danvers, where he was staying. He was not on duty at the time.
Wojick is due back in court Jan. 10.