TOWNSEND — A former Townsend Police officer is accused of propositioning a woman for sex and then impersonating an officer in an attempt to prevent her from reporting the incident, authorities said.
Thaddeus Rochette, 60, of Townsend, is charged with witness intimidation, accosting and annoying, impersonating a police officer and sexual conduct for a fee, according to a press release issued Friday by the Townsend Police Department.
The recent allegations against Rochette are not the first time the former police officer has been accused of salacious behavior around women.
In a 2013 letter to the Board of Selectmen, then-Townsend Police Chief Erving Marshall Jr. wrote that he investigated Rochette during his time as a police officer after Rochette was accused of inappropriate conduct around female Dunkin’ employees as young as 17.
Police said in Friday’s press release that they were contacted on Wednesday by an employee of a Townsend business who claimed Rochette made numerous sexually inappropriate statements during a conversation with her. Police said he then allegedly offered the woman cash in exchange for sexual acts.
According to police, the employee also alleged that Rochette claimed he was a Townsend Police officer and threatened her with legal ramifications if she reported the incident to authorities.
Police said they immediately began an investigation that led investigators to obtaining an arrest warrant for Rochette from Ayer District Court.
Rochette was taken into custody on Friday. He was ordered held on $1,000 cash bail pending his arraignment in Ayer District Court on Tuesday.
This latest incident has shined light on a nearly decade-old investigation by Marshall into allegations of inappropriate conduct during Rochette’s time as a police officer in Townsend.
Marshall lays out in the 2013 letter to the Board of Selectman that the investigation began when the then police chief was told that Rochette had been banned from a Dunkin’ in the town for “bothering the girls” who work there.
Marshall said the accusations prompted him to discuss the claim levied against Rochette with Dunkin’ employees, as well as the mother of a 17-year-old girl who worked at the restaurant.
Marshall said in the letter that Rochette was described by restaurant employees as “creepy.” Marshall wrote he was told that Rochette had been going to the store for a couple years, but the situation involving his interactions with female employees had become progressively worse and included him spending hours at the location while both on and off duty.
According to Marshall’s letter, one employee said she had been approached by Rochette for a conversation that turned sexual in nature. The employee told Marshall that Rochette later apologized for the conversation and that he had not bothered her since the incident, though she took measures to avoid him.
Marshall states in the letter that another employee told him that it was standard practice when a new girl started at the restaurant that they would be “warned” about Rochette. Marshall said in the letter that it was also known by Dunkin’ employees and regular customers that Rochette “targets” younger girls.
Marshall states that the mother of a teenage Dunkin’ employee told him that she found Rochette’s business card with his cellphone number in her daughter’s bedroom. According to the letter, the mother also told Marshall that her daughter informed her that Rochette would talk to her about his personal life at high school football games.
Marshall said in the letter that on Jan. 16, 2013, Rochette was served a notice saying he was on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Marshall said Rochette was told to have no contact with local Dunkin’ employees, nor members of the Townsend Police Department, during the course of the investigation.
A few days later, Marshall performed an investigative interview with Rochette, with Rochette’s attorney present. A transcript of the interview was printed on Marshall’s letter to the Board of Selectman.
According to the transcript, Rochette did not recall the details of conversations he had with the Dunkin’ employees. He acknowledged apologizing to one employee, but denied having conversations with her that were sexual in nature.
According to the transcript, Rochette also acknowledged giving his phone number to girls who worked at the restaurant, which he said he did so they could contact him if they were intoxicated and needed a ride home.
“Do you understand my concerns about what’s been alleged?” Marshall asked Rochette, according to the transcript.
The transcript states that Rochette replied, “If I had known anything, my heart has always been to help people and I’ve never asked for anything in return, ever.”
According to the transcript, Rochette told Marshall that he was not trying to date the employees or to sleep with them. The transcript shows that Rochette went on to claim that he would approach the workers and offer to loan them a book he had about relationship compatibility. The goal, he said, was to help the employees avoid the relationship problems he had experienced in the past.
“My intentions were purely for their benefit, not mine and however this turned out, and however it got to where it is, I will never understand,” Rochette said, according to the transcript.
The letter from Marshall to the Board of Selectmen states the investigation led to the determination that Rochette was in violation of the department’s rules on conduct unbecoming of an officer, professional image, devotion of duty and insubordination.
Marshall said in the letter that Rochette was in violation of the insubordination rule for contacting members of the department despite being instructed not to when he was put on administrative leave.
The outcome of the violations were not immediately known. Townsend Police Chief James Sartell was not immediately available for comment.
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis