Former Boston City Councilman, Convicted Pedophile, Now Claims Police Brutality

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday October 6, 2009

A former Boston City Councilor has brought a lawsuit alleging that police in Lawrence, Massachusetts, beat him severely during his 2006 arrest for supposedly enticing a minor.

Scondras, 63, was Boston's first openly gay city councilor. His career and personal life have been marked by controversial episodes, including an earlier brush with the law in which he had been charged with indecent assault on a minor.

Those charges stemmed from a 1996 incident in which a 16-year-old boy claimed who beat Scondras, leaving him with a broken jaw and nose, claimed that he had chased and pummeled Scondras in response to being touched inappropriately by the older man in a movie theater.

Scondras claimed that the story was false and said that the youth had targeted him for assault because Scondras was gay.

When the young man declined to press charges, the matter was dropped.

But, Scondras intimates, not forgotten: according to the former city councilor, he had previously been in contact with the 20-year-old man who posed as a 15-year-old during Scondras' online chats with him, and knew that the man, Michael Fornisi, was 20 years old and not 15.

An Oct. 5 Boston Herald article reported that Scondras claimed that Fornisi claiming in his online messages to be 15 was all part of a fantasy scenario that the two men were playing out.

But when Scondras showed up at the parking lot of Day Charter School around 1 a.m. on October 9, 2006, for a rendezvous with Fornisi, the suit claims, he was beaten by police who met him there and placed him under arrest.

After being thrown to the ground, verbally abused, and threatened with a gun to his head by angry cops, the suit alleges, authorities refused to take Scondras to the hospital.

The suit claims that one police officer uttered, "We'll teach you to come to Lawrence," and that others threw him to the ground and kicked him. Among those officers named in the suit are Eric Cerullo and John Fornesi--the father of Michael Fornesi.

The suit acknowledges that Scondras attempted to flee, but says it was because he thought he was about to be physically attacked.

"Fearing for his safety and that he was about to be the subject of a potential 'gay bashing,' (Scondras) turned to try and run away," the Herald article quoted the suit as stating.

The suit goes on to say that Scondras was thrown down so hard that he suffered a broken tooth. One police officer, Sgt. Ryan Shafer, was alleged to have called Scondras an anti-gay name, before putting his gun to Scondras' head and threatening to pull the trigger unless Scondras remained still.

The Herald article said that the city's Chief of Police, John Romero, did not respond to a request for comment, but that the mayor of Lawrence, Michael Sullivan, stuck up for the department, calling it "totally well-run and open."

The Herald article reported that Michael Fornesi, who at the time was a 20-year-old security guard working at a hospital, had contacted Scondras after seeing him online under the name "Toppdadd." Michael Fornesi then told Sgt. Shafer about the exchanges he had had online, and Shafer suggested that Fornesi set up an encounter.

Teh Herald cited William Korman, lawyer for Scondras, as saying that his client was so "brutally beaten" that he required surgery due to brain swelling.

Scondras took a plea bargain in the case, but subsequently claimed that the plea bargain was out of necessity, and not because he was actually guilty.

An Aug. 23, 2007 Bay Windows article quoted Scondras as saying,"Plea bargains are done not because necessarily people are guilty or not guilty or whatever. They're done for a lot of different reasons.

"This trial already cost me $35,000 and I did what I had to do to protect my family," Scondras added.

The Herald article noted that Scondras was sentenced to a year and a half probation in the case,and was required to register as a sex offender.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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