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Question of the Day
BOSTON (AP) - State Rep. Carlos Henriquez, who’s serving six months in jail after being convicted of assaulting a former girlfriend, was taken to the Statehouse in handcuffs to meet behind closed doors with his colleagues in a highly unusual spectacle on Friday.
Henriquez spent about an hour in the meeting with tight security outside. Lawmakers who attended would not say what the meeting was about.
Gov. Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and others have called on the Boston Democrat to resign. Asked by a reporter Friday if he planned to do so, he did not answer. His attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, said he hadn’t decided and had no timetable for making a decision.
“Carlos maintains his innocence and that’s basically where he stands at this point,” she said.
She would not comment on anything that happened at Friday’s meeting, citing House Ethics Committee confidentiality guidelines.
A day earlier, the House had approved an order allowing the Ethics Committee to require witnesses to appear before it, raising the possibility Henriquez might be brought in. That order didn’t mention Henriquez by name, but it referred to a complaint received the day he was sentenced earlier this month.
House rules do not require lawmakers convicted of crimes to be removed from the chamber, but Democratic speaker Robert DeLeo earlier this month asked Henriquez to resign immediately and referred the matter to the Ethics Committee, which can recommend actions up to and including expulsion.
Asked if Henriquez welcomed the chance to talk to his colleagues, Soriano-Mills said he went of his own free will. She said she did not believe he had contacted the speaker but he had access to newspapers and “to a certain extent” was aware of calls for his resignation.
Henriquez is appealing his conviction, she said.
His former girlfriend told police he punched and choked her during an argument in Arlington in July 2012. Prosecutors allege that he held her down and punched her in the chest, then drove to Boston with her in the car. A Cambridge jury found him guilty of two assault and battery charges. He was acquitted of a third assault and battery charge, as well as larceny and witness intimidation charges.
Soriano-Mills said the former girlfriend changed her story several times and Henriquez has no prior convictions or restraining orders. She also suggested that Henriquez was given a harsh sentence because of his position as a legislator.
“This is somebody who has absolutely no record, no history whatsoever of any kind of violence,” she said. “This is something that he denies.”
Henriquez was re-elected in November 2012, several months after his arrest, to a second term in the House without Democratic or Republican opposition. He serves on several House committees, including education, judiciary, and mental health and substance abuse.
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