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Judge in Porter case rules that attorneys can have access to Brennan’s HPD phone information

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Featured: News, News, Police & Fire

The judge presiding over Tuesday’s discovery hearing of retired Hopkinton Police Deputy Chief John “Jay” Porter at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn endorsed the defense’s motion seeking access to a fellow officer’s work phone for possible exculpatory evidence.

Judge James Budreau presided over the 15-minute hearing in the ongoing case against Porter. He allowed the defense’s motion from the last hearing on Oct. 4 seeking access to information from the work phone of HPD Sgt. Tim Brennan, who had replaced Porter as a school resource officer when Porter was promoted to sergeant.

In May, Porter pleaded not guilty to three counts of child rape. He is charged with committing these acts in September 2004 and June 2005 while serving as a school resource officer in Hopkinton and the alleged victim was a 15-year-old sophomore at Hopkinton High School, according to Thomas Brant, the deputy chief of the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.

Later in May, Brennan was placed on paid administrative leave. No details were released about the reason by the town because it is a personnel matter.

Previous hearing alludes to contact between alleged victim, Brennan

Defense attorney Leonardo Angiulo said at the Oct. 4 hearing that he believed the alleged victim had contacted Brennan about the case after he testified at Porter’s grand jury hearing and wanted to verify that interactions between the two had occurred. During that hearing, Budreau asked if Angiulo also was looking for information that could be contradictory or “could lead to impeachment purposes.”

“That’s exactly it,” Angiulo said.

Brant countered at the Oct. 4 hearing that Brennan was “a private citizen” in this case because he was not involved in the investigation. Angiulo said he believed information was exchanged between the two on Brennan’s work phone beginning when Brennan was the school resource officer. He sought to confirm that texts and emails had been exchanged between them from 2004 to the present.

“He continued to develop this relationship with this person as a witness,” Angiulo said at that time. “He testified at the grand jury [hearing] as a sergeant. If this was some kind of civilian, that would be one thing. But he’s not. He’s a law enforcement witness. I don’t know how to characterize that as a third-party independent civilian.”

“He’s involved in the case, at least tangentially,” agreed Budreau at the Oct. 4 hearing. “More than just a first-party complaint but is facilitating the cooperation of the victim and potentially the investigation of the case.”

Budreau then said once the state police turned the information over to him, he would review it in camera — meaning privately in his chambers — to see if anything obtained would be relevant to the attorneys. He agreed to do the same for school records Angiulo requested regarding the alleged victim and Brennan.

Court records show that a notice and summons was issued to the Hopkinton Public Schools on Oct. 5. The information was received by the court on Oct. 23.

Judge rules that Brennan’s phone data must be turned over

At Tuesday’s hearing, Brant said he wanted to review the information retrieved from Brenan’s cell phone as well.

“I think the commonwealth would like to see it as much as the defense would,” he said.

Brant added that information in Brennan’s phone could reference other members of the HPD, including Chief Joseph Bennett.

Angiulo said his search for exculpatory evidence also could “include components on the internal affairs of the town” and that he “made the town aware of this.”

“I will collect it and review it,” Budreau said. “It sounds like a lot of it is potentially exculpatory.”

Angiulo also noted that Brennan’s interactions with the alleged victim were made public “thanks to newspaper articles.”

On Oct. 28, the Independent published an article after a report from an investigation commissioned by the town showed that Brennan had previous knowledge of the accusations against Porter but failed to report them to the department. The report detailed 11 instances in which Brennan’s conduct violated the HPD’s rules, regulations, policies, procedures and special orders.

Said Angiulo: “There is no question that policies were violated.”

He added that HPD also was preparing a report on Brennan’s conduct, but he did not say whether it had been released.

Brant noted that the state police were supposed to have released the phone data to Budreau, but they encountered a delay.

“They are still reviewing the content of all the phone records,” Brant said. “The state police are extracting the information. It took some time because the phone’s passcode was not remembered.”

Budreau said the phone’s information needed to be turned over to him “within 30 days.” He endorsed the defense’s motion to “inspect and copy” information from the phone with the understanding that “documents will not be disseminated by counsel without further notice.”

The judge scheduled a conference to review the case’s status for Dec. 6. Information from Brennan’s phone should be made available to the attorneys at that time.

Porter wore a black suit with a dark gray shirt to the hearing. He sat next to his attorney with his hands folded during the proceedings, his gaze directed toward the judge the entire time. Porter’s wife accompanied him to the hearing, and the two left the courtroom holding hands.

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