Groups move to distance themselves from accused Bristol leader

David Barboza’s once-extensive list of affiliations has contracted in the past week

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 8/7/19

From the Bristol Democratic Town Committee and Bristol Rotary Club to the Concerts on the Common committee, David Barboza’s curriculum vitae once included a long list of groups with which he …

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Groups move to distance themselves from accused Bristol leader

David Barboza’s once-extensive list of affiliations has contracted in the past week

Posted

From the Bristol Democratic Town Committee and Bristol Rotary Club to the Concerts on the Common committee, David Barboza’s curriculum vitae once included a long list of groups with which he was involved and, mostly, volunteered his time. Following the publication of the Boston Globe’s shocking account of the crimes of which Mr. Barboza stands accused, including sexual assault of a child as young as age 6, organizations throughout Bristol have scrambled to distance themselves from the disgraced former chief marshal.

First out of the gate was the Bristol Democratic Town Committee with a statement that read, in part, “The Bristol Democratic Town Committee (BDTC) condemns these alleged sexual abuses, and wishes to express support for the survivors. Additionally, the BDTC notes their concern regarding the individuals and systems that participated in covering up decades of this alleged abuse at the expense of other children.”

Erich Haslehurst, chairman of the committee, said “When several accusers speak up and speak out, it must be taken seriously. We stand with these victims who have had their innocence taken away and their lives so significantly impacted by the alleged abuser. When victims come forward, too often they are met with ridicule and doubt — we must stop this trend and stand with those that share their experiences.”

“David Barboza has not been a member of the Bristol Democratic Town Committee for the past several years,” the statement continued. Their full statement can be accessed via the group’s Facebook page.

Fourth of July Committee

According to Fran O’Donnell, general chairman of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee, they will be holding an open meeting on Aug. 28 to address this issue, and the agenda will be filed in advance in accordance with open meetings laws. Ms. O’Donnell is aware that people have suggested that chief marshals, in the future, should be subjected to greater scrutiny. However, she correctly noted that at the time he was named chief marshal, a standard background check would not have shown anything, for either Mr. Barboza or Raymond Gallison, the disgraced lawmaker who was honored with the same position the year prior to Mr. Barboza. A 1982 case against Mr. Barboza was dismissed on a 48a, which expunges it from the public record.

“We can’t change the historical fact that he served as chief marshal,” said Ms. O’Donnell. “But we did remove the link on the website that linked to glowing articles and a list of accolades.”

Bristol Rotary Club

Marty Roussel, president of the Bristol Rotary Club, of which Mr. Barboza has been a longtime member and also served as president from 2014 to 2015, sent a letter to its members which read: “I have received an email from David Barboza stating that he has requested a leave from all Rotary involvement. The board will be meeting on Aug. 13 specifically to address our concerns with this matter in accordance with our by-laws. We are also waiting for input from our District Governor.”

“We are all devastated by this news,” said Mr. Roussel, reached the day after the news broke in the Globe, and before Mr. Barboza stepped back. “He was always honorable and demonstrated service above self in our dealings with him.”

Bristol Fire Department

According to Town Administrator Steven Contente, Mr. Barboza’s status as a life member of the Bristol Fire Department is under review.

Knights of Columbus

Contacted for comment regarding Mr. Barboza’s status as a member of the Knights of Columbus, the group replied first, “We are interested in promoting Catholic family life,” followed by “The member has been suspended, pending outcome of police investigation.”

East Bay Center

Contacted about Mr. Barboza’s status as a member of the board of the East Bay Center, Director Robert Crossley expressed dismay at the news. Mr. Barboza was a member of the board and the search committee that hired Mr. Crossley back in 2005, but with the exception of his continued support by attending the group’s fundraisers, has not served on the board for several years.

“One thing that stood out to me, was that David was always very sensitive to people needing second chances, he advocated for people in the criminal justice system. He seemed solid and stand up,” said Mr. Crossley. “I hope that the truth comes out and people can heal.”

St. Mary’s Church

The local organization that David Barboza was perhaps most closely associated with, both as a congregant and employee, is St. Mary’s Church. There was no reply to repeated attempts to reach Father Barry Gamache to ask about Mr. Barboza’s employment status and history, though an email from the Diocese of Providence Communications Office was received. Titled “David Barbazo (sic) Query,” it read “David Baboza (sic) submitted his immediate resignation from employment at St. Mary’s Church on July 31, 2019.”

St. Mary’s parishioners report that a similarly brief announcement was made at services this past Sunday, a response that many found unacceptable, under the circumstances.

“I expected, I don’t know, more,” said one disappointed parishioner who was in attendance on Sunday. “Prayers for his victims? Something.”

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