The 19-year veteran, who was involved in a police-brutality case that the city settled in 2012, is accused of open and gross lewdness.
Boston Police Headquarters. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
A Boston police detective is facing charges for open and gross lewdness after he was allegedly spotted naked and masturbating in a hotel parking lot.
The incident occurred on August 19, a humid Wednesday afternoon, outside Spring Hill Suites in Andover, Massachusetts.
A passerby called local police to report that a balding white man about six feet tall was outside of Spring Hill Suites, standing next to a black SUV and pleasuring himself, according to an incident report obtained by VICE. It was just after 2:30 PM.
This wasn't the perp's first rodeo. The day before, a couple saw the same person jerking off on the hood of a red Volkswagen Golf, according to a witness who works at the Spring Hill Suites. The Golf belonged to that employee, who moved his car but did not call police.
Shortly after the call, Andover Officer Joseph Magliozzi spotted a black SUV driving quickly away from Minuteman Road, a quiet street that includes a couple other hotel franchises. When he pulled the SUV over, Magliozzi noticed the man pull up his tan pants and struggle to buckle his belt.
The driver was Seth Richard, 45, a 19-year veteran at the Boston Police department. He had a Glock, a detective badge, and court documents beside him on the front seat. Magliozzi asked Richard where he was going, and the cop replied that he was "on the job" and on his way back from court. Magliozzi asked why Richard was traveling in the opposite direction from his home in Boxford, a suburb about a 20-minute drive away. Richard reportedly responded, "Why not?"
Magliozzi noticed Richard's behavior was "nervous" and "odd," especially for a fellow member of law enforcement, according to the police report. When asked questions, Richard was apparently evasive and suggested he could "lose everything."
Officer Magliozzi, who was later joined by three other cops, called over a witness who had seen the naked guy masturbating. The witness told the officers he was "absolutely" sure Richard was their man, and later added, "I am 50 years old so I can not be 100 percent sure, but I am 95–99 percent with little doubt in my mind."
Richard was arraigned the next day at the Lawrence District Court and released without bail.
Officer Stephen McNulty, a spokesperson for the Boston Police Department, tells VICE Richard was put on paid administrative leave as of August 20. He says he is unable to comment extensively on the incident in Andover, or Richard's suspension, other to say that the department is worried about Richard's mental health.
"We are deeply concerned for his mental well-being and hope he gets the help he needs," McNulty says.
"Obviously in a case like this there is something wrong here," says Thomas Nolan, a 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department who's now a criminologist at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. According to Nolan, when people are charged with exhibition, they usually go through psychological evaluations first.
"Some police officers, like any other member of our community, have mental health issues," Nolan explains. "Unfortunately for the victims of this or whoever had to witness what he was doing, it could have been worse."
The American Psychiatric Association classifies exhibitionism under a group of disorders called paraphilic disorders. Often, people who suffer from paraphilic disorders get their kicks from fetishes that involve people who can't consent.
Though a black Toyota RAV4 SUV with the same license plate described in the police report was parked outside Richard's ranch-style home in Boxford Tuesday morning, no one answered the door. Lieutenant Robert Hazelwood of the Boxford Police Department told VICE that other than a few speeding tickets, Richard has "led a very quiet life here."
Richard's attorney, Kevin Mullen, did not respond to calls for comment in time for the publication of this article.
This isn't the first time Richard's conduct on the force has drawn scrutiny. In 2009, he allegedly beat then 19-year-old Maury Paulino of Dorchester after arresting him outside a Dorchester police station. Paulino says he went to the station to pay a friend's $40 bail, and that the incident started to escalate after his friend's release. Paulino claims that officers were mistreating his friend, so he started to record the verbal exchange with his cellphone.
"Richard got irritated, he got really upset that I was recording," Paulino tells VICE. "He reached for my phone. He told me you're going under arrest."
Soon, Paulino says, he found himself on the floor of the police station, held down by Richard and two other officers who came to his assistance. While he was down, Paulino says Richard punched him, kicked him, and sprayed pepper spray in his face.
"I was in shock," Paulino says. "He was like, 'Stop resisting,' and I was like, 'I'm not resisting, you just hit me.' He was like, 'Shut the fuck up, stop bullshitting.'"
The officers charged Paulino with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, illegal wiretapping, and assaulting a police officer. He was tried and found not guilty in April 2011, and the next year, Boston Police awarded him a $33,000 settlement. Paulino says he would have taken the case further, but the frequent court dates were taking away time he needed to be spending at school.
After the incident, Paulino claims that the Boston Police Department wrote him a letter explaining that because the case was settled, and Richard was never found guilty, he would not be disciplined by the department. BPD would not comment on Richard's disciplinary record or the incident with Paulino for this story
According to public records, Richard earned $114,189 in 2013.
When informed about Richard's arrest in Andover, Paulino told VICE he was "at a loss for words."
"I knew he was pretty power-trippy, I didn't know he would take it that far," Paulino says. "For him to end up naked in a parking lot pleasuring himself where there could be little kids that's pretty disturbing. I hope they discipline him and they take the gun away. You can't have someone walking around the streets thinking that he has all the power and able to be naked."
Richard's next court appearance is scheduled for October 14.
Follow Susan Zalkind on Twitter.