Rep. Henriquez expelled from Legislature due to assault conviction
The Massachusetts House of Representatives today voted 146-5 to expel Dorchester Representative Carlos Henriquez, who in January was convicted of beating a woman after she refused to have sex with him.
It marks the first time in 98 years that a member has been expelled, and marks the third expulsion since 1906.
On Jan. 15 Henriquez was convicted on two misdemeanor charges of assault and battery stemming from allegations that he kidnapped, backhanded, choked and punched a 23-year-old woman in a rental car in July 2012.
The vote came after two hours of testimony from House members.
Henriquez, who is serving a six-month sentence in a Billerica prison, addressed the House before the vote, adamantly maintaining his innocence and questioning the handling of the matter by the House Ethics Committee.
“I used to think that the good of many outweighs good of the few. Now I wonder at what cost,” he said, adding, “An innocent man does not plead, and an innocent man does not quit.”
“The truth always remains the same. The truth is, I never touched my accuser in any way, at any point in time, that would result in harm or injury…Although a jury found me guilty … it does not change my truth,” said Henriquez.
His remarks only lasted about five minutes, then he was led out of the chamber. He was not present during the vote.
Ethics committee vice-chairman Rep. David Nangle of Lowell called the vote “an unhappy task.”
“It is not our role to be the finder of the fact to determine guilt or innocence,” he said, adding that Henriquez violated the House’s code of ethics and “failed to act prudently.”
Henriquez’s recent conviction indicates an impairment in judgement, Nangle continued.
While recommending that his colleagues vote to oust Henriquez, Nangle said “It’s not a good day for me personally and I’m sure its not a good day for any of you sitting in this chamber.”
The House rejected a motion by Rep. Russell Holmes to censure Henriquez instead of expelling him, but the motion only received ten votes. The measure, if approved, would have allowed Henriquez to keep his seat.
A day before the historic vote, Henriquez penned a public statement slamming his fellow House members for their lack of support and advocating for his innocence.
Before the vote Thursday, the NAACP called on the House not to expel Henriquez, saying he had not violated any House rules with his conviction, and that members should hold off pending his appeal.