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In First Public Interview, Dennis White's Ex-Wife Opens Up About Alleged Abuse

Dennis White, in a still image from a video he recorded with his attorney. White is fighting his firing as Boston police commissioner (Courtesy Attorney Nicholas Carter)
Dennis White, in a still image from a video he recorded with his attorney. White is fighting his firing as Boston police commissioner (Courtesy Attorney Nicholas Carter)

As Dennis White waits to see if or when Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey will formally fire him from his short-lived role as the city's top cop, he went on the offensive this week and released multiple videos alleging that his ex-wife was the aggressor in their relationship, abusing him and their eldest daughter.

But in her first interview since White was abruptly put on leave while the city investigated domestic violence allegations against him, Sybil Mason said White verbally, physically and emotionally abused her throughout their marriage.

"All the abuse was broomed under ... as if it didn't happen," Mason said. "I have scars proving it did happen."

Mason told WBUR in a 90-minute interview that she and White, who divorced in 2001 and share two daughters, had a toxic relationship marred by cheating, fights and abuse.

"I didn't want to remember all this stuff I went through," she said through tears. "But I had to relive all this stuff every single day."'

Mason, who is also a Boston police officer, said she watched White get sworn in as police commissioner on Feb. 1, and thought, "Congratulations," before switching off the television.

Then, two days later, calls and messages started pouring in when White was put on leave, following a Boston Globe report that detailed a restraining order Mason took out against him in 1999.

In her conversation with WBUR, Mason said she hadn't wanted to get involved in the public debate that was erupting over their past relationship. Mason did speak to an outside investigator the city hired to look into the allegations. That investigator, Tamsin Kaplan, detailed in her report Mason's 1999 allegations that White threatened to shoot her and a friend who he thought she was having an affair with. But it also uncovered an earlier incident in 1993, when White allegedly hit and pushed his 19-year-old niece down the stairs.

Kaplan's report told of years of verbal and physical abuse suffered by Mason at the hands of White, abuse that she reported to the Boston Police Department. Witnesses said White was controlling and abusive, and that Mason fought back.

White has denied all the allegations against him. And the department cleared White of wrongdoing in both the 1999 and 1993 alleged abuse incidents.

White's legal team released a statement to WBUR following Mason's interview.

“[Mason's] allegations today are contradicted by her own recorded statement to the police and the court in 1999 that there was ‘no physical abuse’ in Dennis White’s relationship with her," the statement reads. "As a police officer, she was duty bound to tell the truth. Her unsworn statements to the press today are also contradicted by the sworn statements of her daughter, her sister and Dennis White."

Janey intended to fire White May 14. But White mounted an unsuccessful legal battle to stop the city from firing him, or at the very least, get a "trial-like, name-clearing hearing" where he could bring evidence and cross-examine witnesses. Multiple judges rejected that attempt.

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On Wednesday morning, Janey held a private Zoom hearing that is required before White can be terminated. Her office said in a statement that she would "make a decision after careful deliberation." She previously said the city needs to move on from White in order to move forward.

Ahead of the hearing, White's attorneys this week released videos of White, his eldest daughter and his ex-wife's sister, all refuting the allegations against him. They said that Mason was abusive to White, their daughter and others.

The eldest daughter, Tiffany White, now 39, detailed physical and verbal abuse she claims she suffered at the hands of her mother. She said she was called fat and lazy by her mother and criticized for not cleaning the house correctly or fast enough.

"She would just start beating on me," she said. "She would just start hitting me."

Dennis White, in his own video testimony, said his daughter was the victim and has been hurt further by the media attention around his suspension.

"Domestic violence, I take very seriously, especially when it affected my family, my daughter. So, again, this is very disheartening to me," Dennis White said in the video.

WBUR generally does not name victims or alleged victims of domestic violence. Mason said she decided Wednesday to speak publicly because of what she calls "lies" from her family and White.

Mason acknowledged Wednesday that she "disciplined" her daughter — and claims White did the same — but said it wasn't abuse.

"Did I discipline Tiffany? Yes I did," she said. "Did she get spanked? Yes."

She said she hasn't spoken to her daughter since January, when they got into an argument over the phone.

"My sister, nor my daughter, can say this didn't happen," she said. "I went through it. I was the one who got stomped on. I was the one who got beat."

She said White coerced her into sexual situations she wouldn't have otherwise gone along with.

" 'If you love me, you would do it,' " she recalled him saying.

Another time, she alleged he would disable her car so she couldn't leave the house.

"Everybody thinks abuse is only about hitting," she said. "No, I went through a lot of emotional abuse with this guy, too."

Their fights, she said, started because she'd ask about White's infidelities.

"Did I fight Dennis back? Yes, the hell I did," she said. "Was I a fighter? Yes. Did I fight him back? Yes. Did I throw the first blow? No."

White this week also released a six-page statement he planned to deliver to Janey at Wednesday's hearing, where he reiterated his claims that he never abused Mason or anyone else, and that those who claim he did are doing his ex-wife's bidding.

"Let’s be clear," the statement said. "I am a Black man, who has been accused falsely of crimes, I have not yet been given a fair trial, and I’m on the brink of being convicted, or terminated which is the equivalent here. As you know, that is a pattern that has been repeated in this country for centuries. I believe it will be bad for Boston if that pattern is repeated here with me."

Despite her apathy about White's promotion back in February, Mason now says White shouldn't keep his job. She said neither of them were innocent in the relationship.

"I'm tired of being labeled the liar," she said. "If Dennis would just own up to what happened, I can own up to what happened."

Related:

Ally Jarmanning Twitter Senior Reporter
Ally is a senior reporter focused on criminal justice and police accountability.

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