After two appearances inside the State House while in handcuffs, state Rep. Carlos Henriquez appears to be digging in and challenging his colleagues into voting him out of his office. Henriquez appeared before his fellow lawmakers last Friday afternoon, and then again on Tuesday afternoon, behind closed doors.
The 37-year-old Dorchester Democrat has been staying in the Middlesex County Jail after a jury convicted him in mid-January of assault and battery on a young woman he was seeing. He was sentenced to serve six months of a two-and-a-half-year sentence.
When asked Tuesday night if Henriquez was planning to stay in the House, and make his colleagues vote to oust him, a person close to the lawmaker said, “He’s going all the way.” Someone with access to Henriquez’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter appeared to echo the sentiment, posting a message on Tuesday that read in part, “If you live in Roxbury and feel that Carlos has helped the community, e-mail the Speaker to share your support.”
A timeline for his potential expulsion remains unclear, since Ethics Committee meetings and discussions are considered confidential. Peter Kocut, a Northampton Democrat who is a member of the committee, declined to say anything about the case as he left the State House on Friday afternoon. Henriquez’s attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, has similarly declined to go into detail about discussions within the committee.
Soriano-Mills is filing an appeal of the conviction, arguing that the sentence is harsh for a misdemeanor and the victim’s account of what happened in July 2012 was inconsistent. “He obviously maintains his innocence,” she told reporters on Friday. “There wasn’t a lot of diversity on the jury,” she added. The jury had two men and four women, “all white,” she said. Asked if she believed the verdict would have been different with a Suffolk County jury, Soriano-Mills said, “I don’t know, I can’t speculate.”
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Gov. Deval Patrick, and Mayor Marty Walsh, have called for Henriquez to step down from his Fifth Suffolk District seat. He was first elected to in 2010 and reelected in 2012, a few months after the victim, Katherine Gonzalves, leveled the charges.
The Ward 15 Democratic Committee, which includes a number of influential activists in the neighborhood, sent a letter last week to Speaker DeLeo pressing for a special election. The letter, dated Jan. 21, said, “We ask that you do everything in your power to allow for a Special Election, to ensure that the Fifth Suffolk continues to have a voice in the House of Representatives, while matters regarding Rep. Carlos Henriquez are resolved in the courts. This is an urgent time for district residents, as there are many pressing issues – crime, education, housing, jobs – that need to be addressed. We are concerned that, for the entire year, the residents of the Fifth Suffolk will have no champion in the House to advocate for these concerns during critical policy and budget discussions and debates.” It was signed by Winston Richie and Eileen Boyle, co-chairs of the ward committee.
The district includes Bowdoin Geneva, Uphams Corner, Fields Corner, Meetinghouse Hill, and part of Roxbury.
Karen Charles, a Meetinghouse Hill Democrat, has expressed interest in running for the Fifth Suffolk seat if Henriquez vacates it.
Material from State House News Service was used in this report.