Cracks have emerged in the blue-chip wall of endorsements supporting Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo’s bid for Suffolk County District Attorney, as Arroyo vigorously denied a report in the Boston Globe that he was twice investigated for sexual assault in 2005 and 2007.
Iron Workers Local 7, which represents more than 3,000 workers across New England, former Congressman Joe Kennedy III and Boston City Council President Ed Flynn rescinded their endorsements. Others, like Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and City Councilor Gabriela Coletta, were on the fence.
Wu, a former city council colleague of Arroyo’s, stopped short of withdrawing her support. Asked whether she stands behind her endorsement, Wu told reporters Wednesday morning she is watching to see “how this story evolves.”
“It is troubling to learn about allegations of this nature, no matter how many years ago they happened,” she said outside an unrelated ribbon-cutting event in Dorchester. “And it is tough when voters are presented with this type of information just days away from an election. Voting starts on Saturday.”
An attorney for one of the accusers appeared alongside Arroyo at a press conference Wednesday afternoon and read a statement disputing the Globe’s reporting and accusing Arroyo’s opponent, interim District Attorney Kevin Hayden, of leaking the information that enabled the story.
Arroyo, who was first elected to the Hyde Park city council seat in 2019, has enjoyed wide support from Democratic elected officials since launching his campaign in February.
Wu added her administration is trying to determine the source of the leak.
“Any allegations of sexual assault should be investigated to the fullest extent,” Councilor Coletta said in a statement. “It’s prudent to see how this evolves and if there are more facts related to both cases.”
Others, like At-Large City Councilor Erin Murphy, called for Arroyo’s resignation.
“His behavior is not becoming of a city councilor,” Murphy told GBH News. “We take an oath and there’s a code of conduct. ... There are times where people question us as a council, and the respect we give this body and I do think that this body deserves a lot of respect because we do have a lot of power and we answer to the people.”
City Councilor Frank Baker refrained from calling for his resignation but said the allegations demand consequences.
“As elected officials, the public has put their trust in our words and actions. Any violation of that trust; certainly accusations of sexual assault must be investigated,” Baker told GBH News. “We owe that to the survivors — at the very least. Measures must be taken to address these allegations immediately. It is my hope, the City Council as a body, will act responsibly on these consequential accusations.”
Federal officials who endorsed Arroyo, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, were unavailable for comment as they dealt with President Joe Biden’s announcement of a student loan forgiveness plan.
Arroyo, 34, maintained his innocence during a press conference at his Jamaica Plain campaign office. He was joined by a group of nearly two dozen supporters as well as Brigite Melo-Cronin. Melo-Cronin, an attorney who represents the unnamed woman from the 2007 case, read a statement that pointed the proverbial finger at interim DA Kevin Hayden for leaking the documents to the Globe.
“I want to be perfectly clear, so there is no doubt,” Melo-Cronin said, reading the victim’s statement. “Ricardo Arroyo has never assaulted me.
“I believe the Hayden campaign is intentionally using me to assassinate the character of Ricardo Arroyo, who has never been anything but a friend to me,” Melo-Cronin continued on behalf of her client.
The statement went on to describe an encounter in July with a private investigator who relayed that she would be part of a “political scandal.”
“I am absolutely disgusted by what I believe to be the actions of the DA’s office and the Hayden campaign,” Melo-Cronin said, reading the victim’s statement.
Hayden’s campaign released a statement early Wednesday denying responsibility for the leak and accusing Arroyo of political sleight of hand:
“In the recent Globe story, Ricardo Arroyo was clearly caught lying multiple times to reporters as he made seemingly frantic attempts to cover up the disturbing accusations against him,” the statement said. “In the statement he put out after the fact, he continues to change his story while also tossing out completely false and unfounded accusations in order to deflect from his own misconduct.”
Arroyo insisted he has never assaulted anyone, and that he was never informed of any such accusations.
“I first learned of these complaints last week from the Boston Globe,” he told reporters. “I was never questioned by Boston public school officials, the Boston Police Department or anyone relative to any such investigations. I have never been disciplined by the Boston Public Schools for any reason whatsoever, and at no time did anyone ever in my life tell me I had any such complaints made or was ever the subject of any investigation.”
That assertion is at odds with the Boston Globe’s reporting that “police records explicitly state that a detective spoke to Arroyo and his attorney” in 2005.