Tamara Race reports for the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Massachusetts. Excerpt:
A clerk magistrate will rule early next week whether Plymouth Police Chief Robert Pomeroy and Town Manager Eleanor Beth should face criminal charges for forcing a police officer to take a lie-detector test or lose his job.
If convicted, the two would face a fine of $300 to $1,000 and forfeit their retirement pensions.
Because Plymouth police have a close working relationship with Plymouth court magistrates, from Falmouth District Court Assistant Clerk Magistrate Kenneth Halloran presided at yesterday’s hearing on a criminal-complaint application filed by Patrolman Kevin Furtado.
Furtado, Pomeroy and police union president Paul Boyle testified yesterday. Beth was not present at the hearing.
Furtado says Beth and Pomeroy in 1999 forced him to take a polygraph test as a condition of employment, in the wake of an allegation that he molested two boys, 5 and 7 years old.
Furtado’s attorney, Joseph Gallitano, told Halloran that such a request is illegal in the absence of a criminal investigation and that the criminal investigation conducted by former District Attorney Michael Sullivan had ended.
According to court records, the children’s parents called their pediatrician after becoming concerned about statements made by the younger child.
The boy told his parents that Furtado had groped his genitals during horseplay in Furtado’s pool. The boys, Furtado’s children and Furtado were playing in the pool at the time. The pediatrician spoke with both boys and filed a report with the state Department of Social Services. Sullivan launched an investigation based on that report.
The boys were subsequently interviewed and videotaped by professional sexual assault counselors with the district attorney’s office. During those interviews, the younger boy did not repeat the allegation he apparently made to the pediatrician.
”The district attorney in September wrote a letter to the chief saying the investigation was over and no charges would be filed,” Gallitano said.
In November 1999, prior to Furtado’s test, the boys’ parents sent a letter to Pomeroy saying they believed nothing had happened to their sons and that the incident was exaggerated.
Sullivan turned the case back over to the police chief for administrative action only, Gallitano said.
”In all the case law, polygraphs are only allowed in the case of an ongoing criminal investigation,” he said. ”It had to be done within the course of the criminal investigation, and the only action going forward at the time was administrative.”
Leonard Kesten, attorney for Pomeroy and Beth, said the chief had no intention of breaking any laws in asking Furtado to take the test.
”He read the case law and sought advice from the district attorney and town counsel before taking action,” Kesten said.
Pomeroy said he obtained immunity for Furtado as requested by police union attorney William Strauss and then reiterated his demand that the officer take the test or lose his job.
”No one objected to the test after Kevin Furtado received immunity from prosecution,” Kesten said. ”We wouldn’t be here if he had passed the test.”
Pomeroy indicated that he ordered the test to get some assurance that Furtado was innocent and to protect the town from future liability if the parents of the children had a change of heart and decided to sue.
Furtado was given two tests, one for each of the children, Pomeroy testified. He said a written report of the test results stated that Furtado’s answers to ”pertinent” questions were ”deceptive.”