BOSTON (AP) - A state representative from Boston faces allegations he punched a woman and held her against her will, police and prosecutors said Monday.
Rep. Carlos Henriquez, a freshman Democrat, was released on $1,000 bail after pleading not guilty to a kidnapping charge at his arraignment on Monday in Roxbury District Court. He was also arraigned on charges of witness intimidation and larceny under $200, according to the Suffolk District Attorney's Office.
Police said the lawmaker was arrested at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday after a woman jumped out of a car near Northeastern University in Boston and told police Henriquez had punched her and held her in the car against her will.
Henriquez, 35, was ordered to stay away from the woman, and a hearing in the case was scheduled for Sept. 27.
Prosecutors said the evidence indicated that the alleged assault occurred in Arlington, not Boston, so that charge will be moved to Middlesex County.
Henriquez did not speak to reporters following his court appearance, and his office did not immediately issue a comment.
His lawyer, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, said her client was shocked and "adamantly denies" the allegations, according to the Boston Herald.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo called the allegations against Henriquez "extremely serious in nature," but suggested it would be premature for the House to contemplate any official action against the legislator.
"These are very strong accusations, but on the other hand ... we ought to let the court process and the judicial process play itself out," DeLeo told reporters at the Statehouse on Monday.
In a statement released to the media, Henriquez said, "...I have dedicated myself to protecting women, not abusing or assaulting them. Putting my hands on a woman is contradictory to my upbringing and my own morals."
Henriquez, who represents the 5th Suffolk District in the Legislature, was born and raised in the city's Roxbury neighborhood, according to his biography.
He sits on the Education, Judiciary, and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committees in the Legislature.
Henriquez is seeking re-election to the House. There are no other Democrats or Republicans listed on the primary election ballot, and the only other candidate currently in the race is Althea Garrison of the Independent People's Party, according to the secretary of state's office.
FULL STATEMENT FROM REPRESENTATIVE CARLOS HENRIQUEZ:
I want to thank all my family, friends, colleagues and particularly the community I am privileged to represent who have expressed their support, love, understanding and best wishes during this confusing and upsetting course of events.
I have been accused of some serious charges, these allegations are completely untrue.
I was raised by a strong mother and also raised with a younger sister both of whom I respect and love deeply. My father, Julio Henriquez, who recently passed was a track coach and mentor to hundreds of young women from this community and I have dedicated myself to protecting women, not abusing or assaulting them. Putting my hands on a woman is contradictory to my upbringing and my own morals.
As both a community activist prior to getting elected and as an elected official I have spoken with hundreds of youth and adults about the problem of violence against women. I have worked tirelessly with multiple agencies and organizations who champion against the issue of domestic violence. It is a mission I am committed to in my personal and public life.
Currently, this matter is in the hands of the court and I am confident that when this process has run its course I will be vindicated of all charges. This matter will be tried in the court and not in the media or in the court of public opinion. I can assure my supporters and critics alike that I am innocent of these charges. I will follow the advice of my attorney and not provide any details of this incident, other than to say and reaffirm I am innocent.
I will continue to work and serve the people of my district as I was elected to do. This incident is unfortunate and embarrassing, but I will not shirk my duties or hide.
I ask that you remain patient and keep me and my family in your prayers. I ask that you respect all parties involved and show supportive by helping to serve our community. I trust that this incident will soon be behind us all and we can continue to serve and deliver for the constituents, the residents of the 5th Suffolk District.