The community has settled into a state of complete shock over the last 48 hours with the news that School Committeeman and long-time volunteer in many organizations, Henry Wilson, has been charged by Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins with the alleged enticement and rape of a 12-year-old boy in late June.
Wilson, 56, was arraigned Tuesday morning in Chelsea District Court on charges of rape of a child aggravated by an age difference of at least 10 years and enticement of a child. The child victim in this case is 12 years old. At the request of Assistant District Attorney Meghan Joyce of District Attorney Rollins’ Child Protection Unit, Judge Matthew Machera imposed bail of $50,000, and it was noted that prosecutors were worried that he might flee the country. Judge Machera additionally ordered Wilson to stay away from and have no contact with the victim and the victim’s family, stay away from the victim’s home, have no unsupervised contact with children under 18, hold no employment or volunteer work serving children, remain in Massachusetts, be subject to GPS monitoring, and surrender his passport.
Suffolk prosecutors were precluded from moving for Wilson’s detention, based on dangerousness, under state law because the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that statutory rape, even when aggravated by age, does not involve the predicate level of force or threat of force necessary to qualify under the dangerousness statute. But for this legal preclusion, the DAs office said they would have moved under to have Wilson detained without bail subject to a dangerousness hearing.
During a forensic interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, the victim disclosed that, on June 28, 2021, he was walking in the area of Broadway in Chelsea when an adult male offered him a ride in his car. The man drove him to a parking lot and allegedly sexually assaulted the child in the car. Parts of the sexual assault were captured on cell phone camera.
On July 2, 2021, when members of the victim’s family became aware of the sexual assault, they went to the Chelsea Police Department and reported the child rape. The alleged perpetrator was identified as Henry Wilson, prosecutors said.
At the request of detectives, Wilson appeared at the Chelsea Police Department Tuesday and agreed to speak with detectives. At the conclusion of a post-Miranda interview, he was placed in custody for the charges listed above.
“This man ran for office and is a member of the Chelsea School Committee,” said DA Rollins. “He was in a position of power and routinely sought out opportunities to surround himself with children. Now, he stands accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old child that is over four decades younger than him. My staff and I have been in contact with our law enforcement and community partners including the Chelsea Police Department and Chelsea Public Schools to ensure that services and resources are available to this child victim and his family.
“This little boy did nothing wrong. He is 12 years old and should be enjoying the end of summer before getting ready to return to school,” she continued. “Instead he is dealing with this. It is heartbreaking.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if Wilson had made bail, as it was a large bail requirement.
It was uncertain what would happen with Wilson’s School Committee seat, as well as his involvement with numerous Chelsea organizations like the Chelsea Black Community and The Neighborhood Developers, among others. None wished to comment on the developments right now.
The Chelsea Public Schools have put a stay-away order against Wilson from any school property, and Supt. Almi Abeyta said they are working with Chelsea Police and the DA’s Office.
“The Suffolk County District Attorney notified City of Chelsea officials that Chelsea School Committee Member Henry Wilson would be arraigned (Tuesday) on charges related to an inappropriate relationship with a student in the Chelsea Public Schools,” read a statement from Abeyta. “District officials are cooperating fully with the District Attorney, Chelsea Police Department, and other agencies involved in the investigation. An order has been issued prohibiting Mr. Wilson from any CPS campus and contact with any CPS student. The school district can provide no other details about the matter at this time, and all further questions should be directed to the District Attorney’s Office.”
School Committee Chair Kelly Garcia said they were shaken by the news of a colleague being charged with the alleged crime. She said she is certain supports will be put in place for anyone in the district that needs them.
“The Chelsea Public Schools community was shaken (Tuesday) by the news of very serious charges filed against our colleague on the School Committee, Henry Wilson, involving one of our students,” said Garcia. “Needless to say, we are deeply troubled by these allegations. We appreciate the Superintendent’s swift handling of the matter, taking all the appropriate steps, notifying families and staff, and offering the district’s full cooperation to the Suffolk County District Attorney, Chelsea Police Department, and others handling the investigation and prosecution. I know that Dr. Abeyta, her team and the Chelsea School Committee will make supports available to anyone who may need them as a result of this disturbing news.”
Chelsea resident and former School Committeeman, Bobby Pereira, who held the district seat before resigning several years ago, allowing Wilson to be appointed to his first term, said if the allegations are true – they are unforgivable.
“What Henry is charged of…is sick,” he said. “As a father it made my stomach turn as I learned the news. My heart goes out to the affected families and may God be with them. Taking advantage of young lives is unforgivable and hope all is done to ensure this man never hurts a child again.”
Jacqueline Ramirez is the assigned victim witness advocate. Wilson is represented by attorney Anthony Fugate. He returns to court September 9.
While the victims and witnesses of any crime should call 911 in an emergency, there are additional resources available to report suspected crimes against children. In Suffolk County, survivors of child abuse and exploitation and their non-offending caretakers can receive comprehensive services at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County. The CAC can be reached at 617-779-2146. Survivors may also contact the Child Protection Unit at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 617-619-4300. Anyone who believes that a child in Massachusetts may be the victim of abuse can call the Department of Children and Families’ Child at Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200. Those concerned that a child is being exploited online may report a Cybertip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or www.cybertipline.com.