Suffolk district attorney candidate Ricardo Arroyo, facing accusations that he sexually assaulted two girls as a teenager, is fighting to just survive the next few days in what could be a turning point in the campaign.
Whether Arroyo can convince voters that the opposition research that led to the accusations is false and unfair will determine whether his campaign will continue or end in disgrace.
The timing of the percolating scandal is especially bad because early voting and mail-in balloting are just beginning, so voters who will be voting before the primary are getting a fresh look at the issue. Arroyo was never charged with a crime and denies even being questioned by police.
But the allegations have put one of Arroyo’s most enthusiastic supporters, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, in the uncomfortable position of deciding whether to pull her gushing endorsement — like former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III did earlier in the day.
Wu did not immediately distance herself from Arroyo despite the fact that in the past she has been an ardent supporter of female victims of sexual assault.
“Um, I’m waiting to see what more details might evolve in this situation,” a clearly uncomfortable Wu said. “It is of course troubling to learn of this type of allegation no matter how many years ago.”
Wu should be calling for an internal police investigation into how the documents were leaked. If a Boston Police officer or prosecutor leaked the reports it could be a crime.
Wu should also be asking why her police department confirmed to the Boston Globe that the reports of the two cases were authentic and referred to the district attorney’s office.
Kennedy, though, had no such qualms getting out of the Arroyo camp.
“These allegations are incredibly serious and undermine the foundation of an effective DA’s office — trust and accountability,” a Kennedy spokesman said. “In light of this, Joe notified the campaign this morning that he is withdrawing his endorsement.”
Kennedy no doubt is concerned that Arroyo’s denials are not credible and that there might be another shoe or shoes to drop in the scandal.
Arroyo claims he’s never known about either sexual assault investigation, but the Globe reported that documents from the time said police had spoken to him.
That is a huge discrepancy.
Voters will now be confronted with deciding whether the scandal is enough to cast a ballot for current acting District Attorney Kevin Hayden, who Arroyo claims is responsible for the accusations being reported. Before the sexual assault accusations erupted in the Boston Globe, Hayden’s main argument was that Arroyo, a two-term Boston city councilor, was not experienced enough in law enforcement. Now that line of attack seems tame.
“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in my life,” a defiant Arroyo said at a press conference Wednesday.
“Sadly what has now become clear is that the current district attorney, or an official working on his behalf, just weeks before this election has selectively and illegally leaked incomplete information to the media,” he added. “This criminal act and abuse of power was clearly done to harm my reputation and impact an election in which Kevin Hayden’s administration has a vested interest.”
The Hayden camp is firing back.
“Ricardo Arroyo was clearly caught lying multiple times to reporters as he made seemingly frantic attempts to cover up the disturbing allegations against him,” a Hayden spokesman said. “In the statement he put out after the fact, he continued to change his story. Now he is tossing out completely false and unfounded accusations in order to deflect from his own misconduct.”