State Rep. Carlos Henriquez Sentenced To Six Months For Assault Charges

He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Photo By Alex Lau

Photo By Alex Lau

State Representative Carlos Henriquez will spend half a year behind bars after a jury convicted him of assaulting a woman he was dating in the summer 2012.

Henriquez, who serves the Dorchester district, was convicted Wednesday on two counts of assault and battery. A six-member jury acquitted the elected official on three other charges stemming from the incident, including intimidation of a witness.

The State House News Service reports that Henriquez was taken out of the Medford courtroom in handcuffs after a judge ordered him to spend six months of a two-and-a-half year sentence in the Middlesex County House of Corrections. Henriquez is accused of hitting then-girlfriend Katherine Gonzalves while the two were in a rental car in Arlington, where the victim lives.

According to Gonsalves’ account of the assault, which occurred in July 2012, Henriquez became frustrated when she told him she couldn’t go home with him that night, after he drove from Dorchester to Arlington around 3 a.m. to see her.

During the trial this week, while on the witness stand, Gonzalves told the courtroom that Henriquez “got physical” at that point, and back-handed her while the pair was in the backseat of the rental car.

From there, the situation allegedly escalated, and Gonzalves said Henriquez choked and punched her before driving off with her still in the back seat. The victim claimed she was unable to get out of the car, as the elected official drove from Arlington back into Boston, and she had to eventually jump out of the vehicle  when they were near Northeastern University in order to escape. She was then assisted by officers from Boston and the school.

Henriquez’s attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, refuted some of the victim’s claims in court by highlighting discrepancies in statements Gonsalves made with law enforcement officials investigating the assault case. Soriano-Mills asked the judge to lessen the sentence, citing Henriquez’s lack of a criminal history.

Henriquez continued to show up for events around Boston, and in his district, and serve the community in the year-and-a-half following the assault allegations.

As for what happens to his seat on Beacon Hill following the sentencing, that remains uncertain. But both Democrats and Republicans are calling for Henriquez step down.

I consider domestic assault to be very, very serious. The House considers that to be very, very serious. Having said that, based upon what has happened today in terms of a jury convicting Rep. Henriquez, I think it’s incumbent upon him to weigh the possibility of resigning immediately. If not, it’s incumbent upon me as speaker of the House to immediately refer this matter to the Ethics Committee to take action,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the State House News Service.

Mayor Marty Walsh, a former state representative, said in light of the sentencing he would encourage Henriquez to resign “in the best interests of the constituents he represents.”

“Violence against women is an epidemic, and is totally and universally unacceptable. This case shines a spotlight on something that plagues our nation every single day. Nearly one quarter of women in this country have experienced violence; Boston is no exception to these startling facts,” Walsh said.

House Republicans also demanded Henriquez recuse himself from office with the help of Governor Deval Patrick.

MassGOP Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes issued the following statement:

The MassGOP calls on the state’s leading Democrat, Patrick, to immediately demand the resignation of Representative Carlos Henriquez. If the resignation is not tendered right away, there may not be adequate time for a special election and thus robbing the good people of Dorchester representation on Beacon Hill.

Patrick agreed. “Representative Henriquez should immediately resign from the House,” he said in a statement.

Henriquez did not take the stand during the trial, and chose not to speak after the judge delivered the sentence. A call to Henriquez’s lawyer, about whether or not Henriquez would step down, was not immediately returned.