EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 21, 2013

Fired Lawrence policeman foundnot guilty in Florida child rape case

By Jill Harmacinski

---- — LAWRENCE — Fired city police officer Carlos Gonzalez was acquitted of a child rape charge in Florida, where he’s been jailed since March.

Gonzalez, 49, now faces extradition to New Hampshire, where he was indicted on charges he sexually assaulted a girl under the age of 13 in Salem in 1992 and 1993.

On Tuesday evening, Jurors in Polk County, Fla. found Gonzalez not guilty of sexual battery of a custodian on a person between the ages of 12 and 18 and selling, giving or serving alcohol to a person under age 21, a court spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.

A jury was empaneled Monday in the case. The trial started on Tuesday at 8:45 a.m., with the state calling five witnesses and the defense calling three, which did not include Gonzalez, the court spokeswoman said.

Jurors deliberating in Polk County’s 10th Judicial Circuit Court delivered the not guilty verdicts at 6:53 p.m. Tuesday, according to court records.

It was unclear yesterday when Gonzalez will return to New Hampshire for arraignment on the Salem indictment.

The victim in the Florida case said she was assaulted by Gonzalez in a private home on July 22, 2012 while the officer was vacationing in Haines City, Fla. Haines City is located between Tampa and Orlando.

The girl reported the alleged Florida assault to Lawrence police in December.

Gonzalez was subsequently arrested Feb. 27 in Andover at the Massachusetts School of Law, where he was a student. He was arraigned on a fugitive from justice warrant in Lawrence District Court the following day and held at Middleton Jail pending his transport to Florida.

In June, while he was in jail in Florida, Gonzalez was indicted in New Hampshire for aggravated felonious sexual assault. The indictment 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 in Florida.

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

In December, after the investigation into the Florida case was launched, Gonzalez was placed on paid administrative leave. He stayed on the payroll until July 1, after the N.H. indictment, when he was fired by Mayor William Lantigua.

Then, in August, the city rejected a plea from the Lawrence Patrolmen’s Union to reinstate Gonzalez to job. The union had filed a grievance, saying Gonzalez should be suspended without pay until the charges against him are heard.

Detective Alan Andrews, union president, declined comment for this story yesterday.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.