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Emotions high, Brennan hearing continued so sides can negotiate agreement

by | Jan 19, 2024 | Featured: News, News, Police & Fire

Tim Brennan

Tim Brennan (second from left) listens to his attorney make a point during Friday’s hearing. PHOTO/JOHN CARDILLO

An emotional and contentious meeting Friday ended with the Select Board deciding to continue the Loudermill hearing regarding Sgt. Tim Brennan’s future with the Hopkinton Police Department in order to give the parties time to try to find an amicable solution.

Prior to the unanimous decision — which was suggested by the legal representatives for both sides — it appeared that the Select Board was leaning toward accepting the police chief’s recommendation that Brennan be fired from the force for failing to report accusations that a fellow officer committed sexual assault of a minor.

Select Board members — many of whom said they knew Brennan and his family for years — were conflicted and visibly upset, at times having to pause to compose themselves while expressing their views. They also were the subject of loud criticisms by some of the many Brennan supporters in the audience at the Hopkinton Senior Center.

Some Select Board members focused on Brennan’s decision not to share his knowledge of the accusations over the course of multiple years, during which time the accused rapist, John Porter, ascended to deputy chief.

“How could you allow a sexual predator to keep advancing?” member Irfan Nasrullah asked Brennan.

Added Mary Jo LaFreniere: “We just gave him more and more power because we didn’t know. And that’s just not right.”

Chair Muriel Kramer, however, said she preferred discipline over termination.

Noting that she has professional experience with trauma-informed care, an emotional Kramer said she hoped to find a path back for Brennan because it would be the “most healing and constructive for the community.”

“I know personally that it is a very tenuous and difficult situation to work with a person who has experienced sexual violence. It is not straightforward,” she said. “I respect that he centered on the survivor. I struggle with the fact that he did not find a way to report somehow. But I also know that the Hopkinton Police Department is better with Sgt. Brennan, and I know that he would be welcomed back.”

Her comments were met with loud applause from the audience.

“It is so hard to know what to do when you are confronted with somebody who is in that kind of a vulnerable situation,” she continued, after quieting the crowd. “I have every confidence that Sgt. Brennan did what he thought was best, and that’s all that we can do sometimes.”

Brennan said that the accuser, whom he first befriended when he succeeded Porter as school resource officer in 2005, only revealed bits of information many years after the alleged predatory behavior. The alleged incidents occurred during the school year of 2004-05, when the accuser was a sophomore at Hopkinton High School. Brennan said she first revealed in 2017 that there was “touching and kissing,” but she did not make the actual child rape allegation until 2022, after she finally agreed to talk to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Brennan insisted he encouraged her to take her accusations to law enforcement. This, he said, was the only way Porter could be brought to justice — with an accuser ready and willing to speak up. He said she warned him not to report her initial accusations or she would deny them.

Brennan, speaking publicly for the first time since he was suspended last year, said the situation was “traumatic” not just for the victim but for the entire community. He said he tried to act in an ethical and moral manner, and, “I hope to never be in a position like this again.”

Tim Brennan hearing

Select Board members share their views during Friday’s hearing. PHOTO/JOHN CARDILLO

Chief Joseph Bennett, in delivering his recommendation that Brennan be terminated, reiterated that Brennan found out about the initial allegations of inappropriate behavior in 2017 yet “did and said nothing.” Because of this, it allowed Porter to continue in a prominent role in the department and community. Porter also continued to coach a high school girls soccer team in a neighboring town.

“To be clear, Sgt. Brennan does not have the rank, authority or discretion to make such a decision to stay silent about such a serious allegation when made against a member of the Hopkinton Police Department,” Bennett said. “Sgt. Brennan has a duty, an obligation to report such an allegation. He admits this.”

After an independent investigation, Bennett added, Brennan was found to have violated “rules, regulations, policies and procedures.”

Bennett added that Brennan did not need to wait for the accuser to come forward.

“If we don’t expect that a police officer is going to report a crime committed by another police officer simply because there’s no complainant, because someone hasn’t walked into the lobby, we’re done. We’re done,” he said. “There will never be another officer reporting about a fellow officer’s wrongdoing.”

Nasrullah, LaFreniere, Amy Ritterbusch and Shahidul Mannan appeared ready to support Bennett’s side.

“How is our Police Department going to operate?” Nasrullah asked.

Ritterbusch said she couldn’t get past the fact that Brennan knew something was amiss as early as 2017.

“As much as I really do like Tim as a person … good people sometimes make serious errors in judgment,” she said.

Mannan asked what would have happened had the alleged victim never agreed to talk to law enforcement.

“If the victim doesn’t come forward, does this die with all of us?” he wondered, adding: “How do we trust the Police Department if everyone starts thinking that way.”

Struggling to get the words out, he added: “The voices of the vulnerable can be lost.”

1 Comment

  1. Tracey

    The heavily redacted (in a very slanted way, that is, slanted in the Town’s favor, thus contributing to the character assassination of Brennan and the disinformation spreading) Kroll report mentions that Daniel Linksey listed several interviews he conducted, *including that of Chief Joe Bennett*. And yet…even now…even after the Town suddenly and finally released the actual interview transcripts last night to Fox25 News, the Town STILL HAS FAILED TO RELEASE ONE IMPORTANT INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT. THE INTERVIEW OF JOE BENNETT STILL HASN’T BEEN RELEASED. During Brennan’s i/v, Brennan said his memory was fuzzy on the exact date but that he thought that on 1/19/23, he (Brennan) approached the Chief while they were in a storage area (presumably private and unexposed to other departmental employees) and tried to talk to the Chief about the case, but when Brennan did, he was rebuffed/shut down/ignored. Then the Kroll report indicates that Brennan’s memory was consistent with that of the Chief. Why has the Chief’s interview not been released?

    Also, why did Mary Jo say, “We only got all of the reports and documents this past Friday night!” They were completed months ago! Mary Jo’s comments evidenced that she really hadn’t read through everything, or, at least she didn’t have a grasp of what they, in fact, said. Additionally, I’m wondering if the Select Board also received Chief Joe Bennett’s interview last Friday when they apparently received everything else? If not….why not?

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