From the time the story re-surfaced last spring, the problem with trying to hold Republican congressional candidate Jeff Perry responsible for a rogue police officer’s illegal strip searches of two teenage girls was that the matter had already been thoroughly litigated.
Perry, a former Wareham police sergeant, was not directly charged in either of the two incidents. Nor has anyone been able to tie his subsequent resignation to his actions in those incidents. Perry’s Democratic opponent in the 10th Congressional District, Bill Keating, has been pounding away on the issue. But according to the polls, the race has remained close. No doubt to a lot of prospective voters, it sounded like typical campaign mudslinging.
That all changed yesterday. Now we have one of the victims declaring that Perry had to have known that then-police officer Scott Flanagan was sexually assaulting her one night in 1991 near a Wareham cranberry bog. “He had to hear me screaming and crying, said Lisa Allen in a statement, according to the Boston Globe. “Instead of helping me, Jeff Perry denied anything happened.”
The Cape Cod Times — which, along with the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, may be the most important local paper in the district — plays the story huge today beneath the headline “Strip-search victim blasts Perry.” As the Outraged Liberal notes, the Boston Herald relegates the story to Margery Eagan’s column — a questionable bit of news judgment, though Eagan, to her credit, is in high dudgeon. So is Globe columnist Joan Vennochi.
The online news site Cape Cod Today has pushed the Perry story relentlessly, and I take this as something of a victory lap.
If there is a congressional district in Massachusetts ripe for a Republican takeover, it is surely the 10th, a conservative part of the state that stretches from Quincy to Provincetown. The Republicans had a chance to pick nice guy Joe Malone, but instead went with Perry. No doubt many of them are regretting that decision today — but surely they knew something like this might happen.
What happened to Lisa Allen may have taken place a long time ago. But the questions she raises about Perry’s empathy and judgment are just as valid today as they were in 1991.