By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Former Methuen City Solicitor Maurice LaRiviere, the man at the center of a sexual harassment suit that cost Methuen more than $725,000, was charged with punching a police officer in Haverhill yesterday.
LaRiviere drove his speeding car past the scene of a disabled vehicle, where police were helping the driver late yesterday afternoon, Haverhill Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said.
That got the attention of police on the scene, and an officer drove after LaRiviere, Thompson said. He said LaRiviere failed to stop his car for some distance but eventually did pull over. After LaRiviere stopped his car, he punched the officer, police said. They said he also refused to identify himself and resisted the officer’s efforts to arrest him. No other details of the alleged assault or LaRiviere’s arrest were available from police.
LaRiviere is expected to be arraigned today in Haverhill District Court on charges of assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to identify himself to a police officer and failure to stop for a police officer.
LaRiviere has a private law office on Merrimack Street in Haverhill.
In January, Methuen city councilors ended a six-year legal battle when they agreed to settle out of court with former Methuen legal secretary Fulya Metin Campanelli for $250,000. The city’s legal fees to defend itself came to almost $475,000. Campanelli was allegedly sexually harassed in Methuen City Hall in 2005 by LaRiviere, her-then boss who was the city solicitor.
The out-of-court agreement came after repeated delays pushed the Methuen council up against a Feb. 1 deadline to accept or reject the settlement, which was between the city, Metin Campanelli, and LaRiviere. The council voted 8-1 to approve the settlement and avoid a trial in Lawrence Superior Court.
Campanelli sued LaRiviere and the city in 2007, saying Methuen officials were negligent in dealing with her claims of sexual harassment against LaRiviere. After she complained to police, detectives used a secret camera and said they recorded LaRiviere on videotape kissing and making advances toward Campanelli in his City Hall office. LaRiviere said previously his relationship with Campanelli was consensual.
LaRiviere resigned as city solicitor on Feb. 16, 2005, after police confronted him with the surveillance tape.
During a public meeting in January, City Councilor Jamie Atkinson asked City Solicitor Peter McQuillan if the city could move to take away LaRiviere’s pension after accepting the settlement. McQuillan said the city could not.
Campanelli was eventually fired by Methuen when she failed to return to work from 14 weeks of leave. She withdrew her $1,772 contribution from the Methuen retirement system in 2006.