© 2024 New England Public Media

FCC public inspection files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact hello@nepm.org or call 413-781-2801.
PBS, NPR and local perspective for western Mass.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Holyoke suspends a top police officer after allegations of sexual harassment and assault

City Hall in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Dusty Christensen
City Hall in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

A leader of the Holyoke, Massachusetts, Police Department has been suspended amid allegations that he sexually assaulted and harassed a subordinate.

Investigative reporter Dusty Christensen has been following up on this breaking story for The Shoestring.

Kari Njiiri, NEPM: Dusty, this case involves a captain, one of just four on the force — Manuel Reyes. What's he alleged to have done?

Dusty Christensen, reporter: That's right. Reyes is alleged to have in court documents attached to a harassment prevention order that was filed yesterday against Reyes in Holyoke District Court. He is alleged to have groped and kissed a subordinate officer without her consent, and to have made repeated unwanted sexual advances to her over the period of several years.

How did you obtain the information?

These documents, like most court documents, are public records. So we were able to obtain the harassment prevention order from Holyoke District Court, as well as a narrative of why that order was put in place by a judge by simply going to the Holyoke District Court.

Yesterday there was a communication — put out inside the Holyoke Police Department — we also obtained, letting employees know that Reyes has been put on paid leave amid this investigation into his alleged misconduct.

What's been the reaction from Police Chief David Pratt?

Pratt has not responded to us as a news outlet at The Shoestring. However, the captain in charge of communications for the Holyoke Police Department, Matthew Moriarty, said simply that the department has been "made aware of an event involving Captain Reyes” and that an investigation is underway. There was no other comment from the Holyoke Police Department.

Mayor Joshua Garcia did say that this is a “personnel matter that will receive rigorous, impartial scrutiny that respects the rights of all concerned." He went on to say he has “faith in [that] process and [that] it will yield a fair, unambiguous conclusion.”

Has Reyes commented?

We reached Reyes by telephone this morning and he declined to comment on the allegations against him. He did note that there is a department policy barring employees from unilaterally speaking with the media.

What about the alleged victim?

We have attempted to contact the alleged victim as well and as of Wednesday afternoon, have not yet heard back from her.

So what is Reyes' status?

Reyes is currently on paid administrative leave pending this investigation inside the department. As you mentioned earlier, he's one of four captains in the department. Captain is the second highest position in the police department.

He's also the member of the Holyoke Police Department who served on Mayor Joshua Garcia's transition team after he was elected in 2021. Last year, he was among some of the top-paid city officials in all of Holyoke, pulling in $168,800 in total pay.

He will continue to be paid?

That is correct. He's on paid administrative leave.

Is there a hearing scheduled?

There is a hearing scheduled. The way that harassment prevention orders work is that there will be a hearing date when the order expires. That is scheduled for April 11. The clerk's office at Holyoke District Court told me that that hearing will be moved to a different court, will not be taking place in Holyoke. Though, as of yesterday, they did not know what court will house that hearing on April 11.

Kari Njiiri is a senior reporter and longtime host and producer of "Jazz Safari," a musical journey through the jazz world and beyond, broadcast Saturday nights on NEPM Radio. He's also the local host of NPR’s "All Things Considered."
Related Content