EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 4, 2013

Hearing officer upholds firing

Lawrence cop accused of child rape in NH, Fla.

LAWRENCE — In a swiftly issued decision, hearing officer Peter McQuillan upheld Mayor William Lantigua’s termination of veteran police officer Carlos Gonzalez.

The city on Monday served Gonzalez with a termination letter and is in the process of shutting off his pay, officials said.

Gonzalez, 48, is currently sitting in a Florida jail awaiting trial on child rape charges. He was also indicted on child rape charges in New Hampshire last month. Gonzalez, who earns $60,000, has been on paid administrative leave since Dec. 17, 2012. With McQuillan’s decision, the city can now shut down Gonzalez’s pay.

The officer is charged with sexually assaulting a girl under age 13 in Salem, N.H. in 1992 and 1993 and raping a girl under age 12 in Haines City, Florida in July 2012.

While Gonzalez is being stripped of his salary, two other city police officers indicted on felony charges, Deputy Chief Melix Bonilla and P.J. Lopez, remain on the city payroll. Lantigua, as mayor, is the appointing authority and ultimately decides if a police officer will be fired.

On Monday, a termination letter was faxed to Gonzalez who is being held on a $165,000 bond in the South Jail in Polk County, Fla., officials said.

A termination hearing for Gonzalez was held on June 21 at Lawrence City Hall. McQuillan, city attorney Charles Boddy and police Capt. Scott McNamara attended the hearing. Neither Gonzalez nor his defense attorney were present.

McQuillan issued his decision, agreeing with Lantigua’s firing the 25-year police officer, five days later on June 26.

In his decision, McQuillan wrote “just cause” exists for Gonzalez’s termination for conduct unbecoming of an officer and noted he’s facing “serious criminal charges of moral turpitude in Florida and New Hampshire involving two separate alleged victims who are minors.”

He added it’s reasonable to conclude Gonzalez committed a serious breach of public trust and quoted state case law (city of Boston v. Boston Patrolmen’s Association) which reads, “One of the most important police functions is to create and maintain a feeling of security in communities. To that end, it is extremely important for the police to gain and preserve public trust, maintain public confidence and avoid abuse of power by law enforcement officials.”

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