By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Jim Marzilli’s in big trouble

The Lowell Sun reports some disturbing details from state Sen. Jim Marzilli‘s arraignment this morning on charges of sexual assault. According to Sun reporter Lisa Redmond, the Arlington Democrat tried approaching another woman hours before he was chased and pepper-sprayed by Lowell police after he allegedly tried to grope a woman on an outdoor bench.

A trio of Boston Globe reporters pass along some nasty details as well, including an allegation that Marzilli initially identified himself by the name of another state legislator (nice touch!), and that police say he broke down and said his life was over upon being arrested. Ugh. And here is the Boston Herald’s update.

As we know, Marzilli was just cleared in a more ambiguous situation. It’s impossible not to evaluate what happened yesterday in light of that. Needless to say, it doesn’t look good.

Marzilli is a smart, hard-working legislator with a strong reformist impulse. In August 2003, I wrote a profile for the Boston Phoenix of then-House Speaker Tom Finneran, who was under fire for his authoritarian streak. Marzilli, then a state representative, had a characteristically smart take, telling me:

Tom Finneran is not the devil. He is a man of enormous talent and intellect, and he is one of the most charismatic people you’ll find. He is at the same time very conservative, and he has a very controlling manner. He wants to be in charge. Now those are not bad characteristics automatically. But in an institution of legislators who are spending less and less time and attention on public-policy matters, it’s dangerous for our democracy. It’s dangerous because a conservative ideology dominates with precious little dissent or input, for that matter.

In an era when liberals are often accused of being socialists, it’s interesting to note that Marzilli actually is one. He chaired (PDF) the Boston Democratic Socialists of America in the 1980s, and his name has continued to pop up in DSA literature in recent years.

Tuesday update: It’s now clear, according to Lowell police reports, that Marzilli was not pepper-sprayed; rather, he was told that if he didn’t stop resisting arrest, he would be. At least one early news report that I saw stated that he had been pepper-sprayed, so I’m not calling this a correction.

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  1. Anonymous

    As an Arlington resident who voted for Jim Marzilli in each of his State House elections (until the district lines were redrawn) and then again for State Senator this past year, the news of the past two months has been downright shocking. Marzilli always seemed like the ideal local politician, possessing a fine balance of humanitarianism and pragmatism. These events are also shocking because they clash dramatically with the image he projects and the person he has always appeared to be. Frankly, it makes the entire episode all the sadder, for personal as well as political reasons.

  2. TJIC

    As an Arlington resident who has had his pocket picked again and again by Marzilli and his big-budget left-wing agenda, it’s interesting to see him turn his skills from simple fiscal assault to aggravated sexual assault.I suppose the core personality trait at work here is that he has no respect for the rights of others – it’s all about him, his desires, and his power.

  3. Anonymous

    Jim Marzilli is the devil!

  4. Anonymous

    It will be interesting to see whether he lands in a state job after he resigns, (presuming he has the grace to even do THAT). Whoever replaces him HAS to be less of a narcissist.

  5. Mike from Norwell

    Anon, that state job may entail license plate manufacture as this unfolds. This will be a little hard to push to the side or blame on pills or medical condition (ala the BMG thread/apology going on right now). At least Patches was just blind out of his mind driving, not groping with his Ambien experience.

  6. Anonymous

    Mike,Maybe, but remember a certain FL steamroom recently. Marzilli’s new nickname will be “Aqualung”:”Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent…”

  7. Mike from Norwell

    Anon, Marzilli’s problem in the topsy turvy world of MA is that he choose to go after a woman over the age of 13. Reverse the sex or age and he would be on the Oprah circuit with redemption in his future. He’s just in the Chester the Molester category right now.

  8. John

    I used to know Jim fairly well ten or fifteen years ago. I admired him for the way he alway fought for the less fortunate and the mentally ill. If the allegations are true, then I hope he gets the proper treatment for his mental illness. I’ll keep him in my prayers. Lets not forget we’re innocent until proven guilty.

  9. Anonymous

    I don’t believe he was pepper-sprayed. At least, the police reports don’t say so. They say he was threatened with being pepper-sprayed.

  10. Anonymous

    Clearly, compassion is not a traditional value among the haters of the left. Jim Marzilli has been an excellent legislator with an overriding concern for the less fortunate. The rancid posts above notwithstanding, he did not unilaterally do anything, including pick anyone’s pocket. He was, after all, one of hundreds of legislators until he recently was elected to the Senate. Perhaps he needs treatment. Perhaps he should be tried, convicted, and imprisoned. But he is not evil — and is probably still a whole lot better person than some of the posters attacking him.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 1:33: I’m pretty sure that at least one earlier version of the story reported that he’d been pepper-sprayed. That’s what I recall reading at the time. I doubt I could recreate that, as the papers were simply writing over their previous versions.

  12. raccoonradio

    How long till ‘RKO hires him? Possible theme songs/bumpers, as Howie has suggested: Keep Your Hands To Yourself, Georgia Satellites;Aqualung, Jethro Tull. Felonyconviction? No problem! If you’reindicted, you’re invited, to nameanother Howie saying.

  13. Anonymous

    How could anyone here possibly defend this man? Were he able to reanimate the dead, it would not excuse the fact that he sexually assaulted other human beings on multiple occasions. A person who sexually assaults another human being does not merit compassion; we are not talking about the manifestations of an illness—we are talking about the details of a crime. Forget about partisan politics—if you are a liberal, you are not bound by law to defend this pervert.

  14. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:03: While this is not a courtroom, and we are not obliged to take the stance that everyone is innocent unless proven guilty, I do think it’s smart to wait until we know more before taking as definitive a position as you have.

  15. Anonymous

    I appreciate your altruism, Dan, and yes, that is the Con Law 101 stance to take, but in the real world, one does not provide a false name to the police and then flee from them if one is innocent. Additionally, we have ample evidence that Marzilli behaved in a similar fashion before (i.e., committed a similar crime), and now reports are surfacing that he has harassed even more women in a similar fashion. In other words, where there is smoke, there is fire.Not only is your blog not a courtroom, but neither is the rest of the world outside of the courtroom. By that I mean we here in Massachusetts must stop trying to pretend that criminal behavior is a symptom of an underlying condition that thereby negates guilt. We are not defense lawyers trying to spring our client; we are people who live and work in the Commonwealth, pay our taxes, and—for whatever insane reason—entrust filth like Marzilli to enact our laws and spend, responsibly at that, our public treasure. Not only is the joke on us, therefore—we’re the ones delivering the joke.Put an (R) after this guy’s name, and see if anyone rushes to his defense. The silence would be deafening.

  16. Mike from Norwell

    Let’s remember the “consent” portion of these scandals over the years. Barney Frank: consensual. Larry Craig: consensual (or at least he thought so). Any number of high minded pols and televangelists involved w/ hookers: consensual. Patches driving around DC blasted: didn’t hurt anyone (although he could have, but we’ll give him a pass in that he wasn’t trying to).The parade of victims unknown to Marzilli were not “consensual”. And if he had pulled this on your wife/girlfriend, you might be thinking of taking a whack at him rather than sympathizing over some unspecified (haven’t thought it up yet) “illness” causing his actions.This is the difference; the old treatment for redemption won’t play here. The state does have the Bridgewater facility to take care of guys like these if he does have a problem.

  17. Peter Porcupine

    Ah, well. The Senator has bowed to reality before his adherents did – and we won’t have Jim to kick around any more.

  18. Anonymous

    What I find funny is what they’ve been saying over BMG. Oh, it’s a mental condition … eh, no, he’s a predator and I hope he spends some time jail.

  19. Diogenes

    The psychiatric industry won another client. Using illnesses to avoid criminal liability is getting widespread especially among the elected criminal class as Noam Chomsky calls it. Psychiatrists have medicalized all of human activities. They describe illnesses that only they can see. There is no pathology for psychiatric illnesses. They are created by consensus with no basis in science. It is personal opinions masquerading as science. It is a new method of social control with no due process protections. Would Marzilli say he would not run if he had a broken leg? How does an illness mitigate crime?

  20. Anonymous

    The Herald referred to his problem as ‘hypomania disorder” typified by “wild mood swings that causes victims to lose control of their impulses”I get it, he’s not a perpetrator he’s a … “victim”!I wonder if this hypomania disorder includes the ever problematic impulse to tap your feet? One thing is certain, being a democrat seems to offer you protection from national media attention.A socialist/liberal claiming a mental disorder – who would’ve thunk it?!

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