A report on an external investigation of a Hopkinton Police Department sergeant currently on paid administrative leave showed he had previous knowledge of accusations of child rape against retired Deputy Chief John “Jay” Porter that went unreported to the department. The firm conducting the investigation found 11 instances in which Sgt. Tim Brennan’s conduct violated the HPD’s rules, regulations, policies, procedures and special orders.
Brennan was placed on paid administrative leave in May. No details were released about the reason by the town because it is a personnel matter.
Earlier that month, Porter pleaded not guilty to three counts of child rape in Middlesex Superior Court. Porter was accused of assaulting a Hopkinton High School student when she was 14 while he was working as the town’s school resource officer in 2004 and 2005. When Porter was promoted to detective, Brennan assumed the SRO position, where he met the alleged victim. According to the report, Brennan continued to be in contact with her after he was promoted to detective in January 2008.
The 36-page report was released to the Independent by the Town Manager’s Office on Oct. 27 as the result of a public records request made by the Independent on Oct. 26. It was prepared by corporate investigations and risk consulting firm Kroll at the request of law firm Mirick, O’Connell, DeMallie & Lougee, LLP on behalf of the Town of Hopkinton.
An email from Assistant Town Manager Elaine Lazarus accompanying the release stressed that “the content of this report is related both to an ongoing personnel matter for which the Select Board will hold a future hearing and an ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.” It is redacted under Public Records Law because it contains sensitive information about the alleged victim, whose privacy is being protected.
Report seeks to establish timeline
According to the report, Chief Joseph Bennett was informed on Aug. 24, 2022, by investigators from the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office that they needed to interview Brennan as part of a criminal investigation into Porter’s conduct. On that day, he did not officially notify anyone in the HPD of what he knew.
Bennett placed Porter on leave the following day pending the outcome of the investigation. Porter resigned from HPD on April 25, three days before he was charged by the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office with rape of a child dating back to his stint as the SRO.
Several months later, while in an equipment storage area, Brennan told the chief “about not wanting to be involved in the Porter case.” Bennett cut off the conversation at that point.
“On January 19, 2023, at approximately 1:19 p.m., Chief Bennett was paged by Brennan and asked to come to the sergeant’s office,” the report stated. “Brennan told the chief that he was concerned about the welfare of the department after the case with Porter was finished. Brennan informed the chief that he was previously aware that Porter was having an affair with the victim student.”
“People are going to wonder how long I knew,” Brennan said to Bennett, according to the report.
Bennett then consulted with legal counsel about his concerns over Brennan not reporting his knowledge of Porter’s alleged conduct. This action prompted the external investigation and the subsequent report.
The report showed that Brennan’s knowledge of Porter’s alleged relationship with the student “evolved over time.” It also noted that because Brennan is a certified sexual assault investigator, he should have known what details to report to the chief.
On Feb. 17, 2023, Kroll investigators Daniel Linskey and Monica Monticello interviewed Brennan at the Hopkinton Town Hall conference room. During this interview, “Brennan stated that he and the victim stayed in touch over the years, speaking on the phone or meeting in person.” Brennan said he did not believe that activities outside of school needed to be reported to supervisors or that he needed to ask permission unless he “was requesting pay.”
“Brennan stated that every six to nine months, he would speak to the victim either on the phone or in person,” according to the report.
“The SRO works very independent,” Brennan told Linskey in the interview. “SRO is like a detective. They work very independent, don’t have constant supervision, like a patrol sarge on the road or anything like that.”
In 2015, Brennan and the victim met while he and Porter were sergeants. He “claimed that he did not have any immediate concerns when he first learned from the victim” of the alleged assault, but he later “described this incident as an indecent assault and battery.” He said he learned of the assault “14 years later.”
When the position of deputy chief opened, Brennan said he did not come forward with information about Porter’s conduct because they were both competing for the position.
The report stated: “Brennan acknowledged that he was aware he was required to report allegations of any wrongdoing he had become aware of and that such a report could cause an investigation to commence even with an anonymous victim.”
In addition, the report showed that Brennan did not make his concerns known to agencies outside of HPD that could have investigated the allegation, including the District Attorney’s Child Abuse Unit, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office or the FBI.”
The only person Brennan told was his wife, Kim, the report stated.
Findings critical of Brennan
In total, Kroll found 11 instances in which Brennan’s conduct violated the HPD’s rules, regulations, policies, procedures and special orders.
One was meeting with a student as an SRO “in a private, off-campus meeting” without supervisor approval.
Several findings showed that Brennan did not report what he learned in 2015 regarding Porter and the alleged victim to the HPD, including alleged rape. “This clearly posed a concern as to the HPD’s liability, potentially resulting in heightened community interest,” the report stated.
“Employees shall not withhold information on criminal activity from the department or other authorized personnel where there is a duty to disclose some information.” Not reporting what he learned to his supervisor was deemed “a serious lack of action on his part.” He also “had a duty to provide support to a victim.”
“To a large degree, the public image of this department is determined by how well it responds to allegations of misconduct against the department or its officers,” the report stated. “All alleged or suspected violations of laws, ordinances, by-laws, department rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and orders (verbal or written) must be investigated according to the procedures outlined for each.”
“Regardless, during all iterations of these allegations, Brennan was a duly sworn member of the HPD and was bound to report these allegations by the department’s rules, regulations, policies and procedures, as well as by special orders,” the report concluded.
Second sergeant may have had knowledge of relationship
Sgt. William Burchard served as a witness during the grand jury investigation of Porter, the report noted. Burchard was interviewed by Kroll investigators on May 18. Questions revolved around an investigation of a motor vehicle stop in 2007 that allegedly involved the victim while Burchard was the overnight patrol officer.
Burchard reported that in 2007, he stopped a young female he later determined to be the victim for a possible OUI based on “odor, bloodshot and glassy eyes.” During a field sobriety test, she took off on foot. He caught her and placed her in handcuffs.
After he radioed the department about the incident, Porter arrived on the scene.
“Burchard said Porter told him he knew the young woman and that she had experienced various issues in her background,” according to the report.
“I got the impression that she knew him,” Burchard stated in the report. “How well, I didn’t know.”
The woman was placed in protective custody at that time while she was investigated for operating a vehicle under the influence. This practice, he said, was rarely used, but Burchard said he used his own discretion.
The report found that Burchard did not give preferential treatment to the woman during his investigation by placing her in protective custody.