The U.S. Attorney’s office is reviewing allegations that Gov. Charlie Baker’s son A.J. groped a woman on a plane last week, and state authorities are not involved, the governor said Monday.
Speaking briefly to reporters in his office lobby, Baker did not discuss details of the allegations, which he said involved “a plane trip and my son A.J. last week.” He said said A.J. would cooperate “with any review of the matter.”
“Look, I love my son, but this review needs to be done by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Baker said. “A.J. needs to cooperate, and we expect that that’s what’s going to happen.”
WBZ-TV reported on Friday night that a woman aboard a JetBlue flight from Washington, D.C. to Boston on June 20 told State Police that A.J. Baker groped her breast and refused to stop touching her. Police took him off the plane and he was not arrested or summonsed to court, the TV station reported.
“My family and I expect a thorough review to take place,” Gov. Baker said Monday. “We also expect the review will be fair and completely independent from this office.”
Baker declined to relay what his son told him happened on the plane, saying “That’s personal,” and citing the ongoing review by federal authorities. Asked if he assumed A.J. would be cleared, he said, “There’s an independent inquiry going on here, folks, and that’s as it should be.”
Scott Lively, a conservative pastor challenging Baker for the GOP nomination for governor, said on Herald Radio Monday that he generally believes the behavior of candidates’ relatives “should be off-limits,” but that he wants the investigation to also look at “how this incident managed to escape public scrutiny until Friday night” and why no charges were filed.
“The problem here is that it was initially handled by a law enforcement agency, the Massachusetts State Police, that’s immersed in a raging public scandal involving police cover-ups to protect political elites, and this agency didn’t charge the suspect,” Lively said. “And the question is, would any other person in Massachusetts who faced these allegations be greeted at the plane by police in this particular way, or is this an example of favoritism?”
News of the allegations against A.J. Baker come less than three months after Bryon Hefner, the husband of former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, was indicted on felony charges of sexual assault and other offenses.
“When the story originally broke about the Senate president’s husband, my statement on it at the time was that there needs to be an independent review,” Baker said, when asked about potential parallels with the Hefner case and calls for transparency. “There is an independent review going on here. It’s being led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and A.J. will cooperate with it, and we fully support that.”
No charges have been filed against A.J., who is represented by Goodwin Procter attorney Roberto Braceras, according to Baker’s office.
Braceras is vice chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission Baker formed in February 2015 to screen applicants for judgeships, and he served on the Supreme Judicial Court Nominating Commission Baker established in 2016 to consider candidates for the state’s high court.