The Boston Police Department should have done more to protect the public after officer Patrick Rose was accused of sexually abusing a child in 1995, a city review found.
Instead, Rose was allowed to return to duty after the criminal charges were dismissed when Rose's victim recanted, even though an internal investigation sustained the allegations. Rose subsequently rose to lead the patrolmen's union before retiring in 2018. He went on to allegedly abuse at least five more children before prosecutors filed new criminal charges against him last August.
The city's new police watchdog agency, the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, reviewed the investigative files from the mid-1990s and identified several flaws in the way the department handled the case back then.
For instance, the watchdog agency found the police department seemingly ignored recommendations made in 1992 by the St. Clair Report, a commission convened after other scandals within the department.
Internal affairs investigators first learned about complaints against Rose in 1995, but didn't interview him for almost a year, waiting until after the criminal charges were dropped. That delay conflicted with recommendations to investigate officers even while criminal charges were pending.
Rose could have been fired, the review found, but doesn't appear to have been disciplined at all, beyond spending two years on desk duty.
"The failure to fully implement the reforms recommended in 1992 was a missed opportunity with very tragic results," Acting Mayor Kim Janey said in a press conference Thursday. "In 2021, we have an obligation to ensure this never happens again."
Today, Rose remains behind bars awaiting trial on multiple counts of sexually abusing children.
As part of the review, the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency recommends that future investigations start within 48 hours of notification.
The city says the new police reform ordinance that created the watchdog agency will provide more oversight of officer discipline — including requiring the police commissioner to provide and publish an explanation if he or she deviates from Civilian Review Board's disciplinary recommendations.
Janey said she would file an amendment that will ensure that the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency is notified when criminal charges are brought against officers.
Earlier this year, Janey asked Stephanie Everett, the new director of the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, to review the police internal affairs system that allowed Rose to continue with the department.
At the time, Janey released 13 pages of the investigative report completed by the police department back in the mid-1990s when Rose was accused of molesting a 12-year-old. Janey said the other 90-plus pages had to be withheld to protect victims.
Documents from the investigation show that Rose was kept on desk duty until the police union he would go on to lead threatened to file a grievance.
The former police commissioner at the time, Paul Evans, said he "did everything that could be done" to hold Rose accountable. Evans has called for the city to release the entire investigative file to show the full scope of the department's actions.