Yesterday the Massachusetts state house voted, 146–5, to expel Representative Carlos Henriquez, a Democrat who was convicted in January of assaulting a woman.
Though Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick had called on Henriquez to resign following his conviction, the New England branch of the NAACP, an organization of which Henriquez is a member, was not inclined to pass judgment, and sent an open letter to members of the house urging them to vote against or abstain from voting on the measure.
“The House of Representatives must respect the Massachusetts judicial process and let Representative Henriquez’s case before the Appeals Court proceed, without jumping to judgment before the appellate decision is rendered,” NAACP New England president Juan Cofield wrote in the February 6 letter. “Secondly, while NEAC respects the jury’s decision, there is currently no rule for expulsion that applies to misdemeanor convictions.”
The misdemeanor convictions in question are two counts of assault and battery: The jury found that Henriquez had held down his girlfriend at the time and punched her repeatedly in the chest after she refused to have sex with him.
“I remember being back-handed; I remember being held down; I remember being punched,” the victim, Katherine Gonzalves, said during her testimony on the July 2012 incident. (Henriquez was acquitted of the charge of hitting her in the face.)
“When a woman tells you she doesn’t want to have sex, that means she does not want to have sex,” the judge told Henriquez. “You don’t hit her. You don’t punch her. . . . I’m very concerned that you’re not remorseful.”
Henriquez has been sentenced to serve six months of a two-and-a half-year suspended sentence. He has maintained that he is innocent. “Although a jury found me guilty . . . it does not change my truth,” he told members of the house in a speech from the floor yesterday.
Photographs of Gonzalves’s injuries were displayed outside the house chamber during the vote. Members said they “showed multiple black-and-blue marks on her chest, torso and arms,” according to the Boston Globe’s account.