EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 18, 2013

Lawrence cop indicted in NH on child sex charge

Officer on paid leave already in Florida jail awaiting trial in 2012 sexual assault case

By Jill Harmacinski

---- — LAWRENCE — A city cop sitting in a Florida jail awaiting trial on child rape charges has been indicted in New Hampshire for sexual assault of a young girl in the 1990s.

Lawrence Police Officer Carlos Gonzalez, 48, is accused of assaulting a girl under the age of 13 in Salem, N.H. in 1992 and 1993. He’s being held in a Florida jail on $165,000 bond, charged with sexually assaulting a girl while he was vacationing there last July.

The new indictment renewed police Chief John Romero’s intentions to have Gonzalez terminated from the Lawrence force. Gonzalez, 48, who earns $60,000 annually, is one of three Lawrence police officers Mayor William Lantigua keeps paying although they are facing criminal charges and haven’t worked in months. In Gonzalez’s case, he is collecting a paycheck while sitting in a Florida jail.

Yesterday Romero said he would ask Lantigua to immediately take Gonzalez off paid administrative leave and put him on unpaid suspension. The chief said he was told last month that efforts were underway to fire Gonzalez. However, Gonzalez remains on the police payroll.

Rockingham County grand jurors handed down the indictment against Gonzalez Friday for aggravated felonious sexual assault. The indictments alleges between Nov. 1, 1992 and April 30, 1993, Gonzalez sexually assaulted a girl who was then 11 years old.

Salem, N.H. police reopened a previous sexual assault complaint against Gonzalez after he was charged on Feb. 27 with sexually assaulting a girl while he was vacationing in Haines City, Fla. last July.

Gonzalez was also the subject of a possible sexual assault on a minor in Newton, N.H. in 2005. At that time, the Rockingham County attorney’s office determined there was not sufficient evidence to bring charges forward.

On Feb. 27, Gonzalez, a 25-year Lawrence police veteran, was at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, where he was studying to be a lawyer, when he was arrested and charged the Haines City fugitive from justice warrant. At his arraignment the following day in Lawrence District Court, Gonzalez said he would not fight extradition to Haines City.

He is charged there with sexual battery by a custodian on a person between the ages of 12 and 18 and selling, giving or serving alcohol to a person under age 21. The victim, who has not been identified by police, said she was assaulted in a private home on July 22, 2012.

Haines City is located between Tampa and Orlando.

Gonzalez was placed on paid administrative leave from work on Dec. 17, when the girl reported the alleged abuse to Lawrence police. Romero has also suspended Gonzalez’s firearm license.

In addition to Gonzalez, Lantigua has also allowed Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla and Officer P.J. Lopez to stay on the city payroll after they were indicted on criminal charges. Neither has worked since September 2012.

Bonilla, who earns $140,000 annually, was indicted by the Essex County Grand Jury as part of an ongoing investigation into Lantigua and his administration. Bonilla is accused of swapping 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolets with a Lantigua friend. The state inspector general said the city lost $30,000 in the deal.

And Lopez, who earns $60,000, was indicted by a federal grand jury for alleging making arrangements with a local tow company to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a “stream of benefits,” including a $4,000 snow plow.

Previously, Lawrence police officer Daron Fraser spent 29 months on paid administrative leave, racking up more than $150,000 without working and accruing vacation and sick time and retirement benefits. After he returned to in January, Fraser was put on paid suspension again for allegedly assaulting a supervisor. Fraser later returned to work and Romero asked Lantigua to impose six months unpaid suspension as a punishment. Lantigua has yet to take action on that request.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.