STOW, MASS. (WHDH) - The former Stow police chief faced a judge Friday after investigators say he exchanged sexually explicit messages with a person he believed to be a teenage boy before driving his town-issued police cruiser to a prearranged meeting in Leominster.
Ralph “Rusty” Marino, 63, was virtually arraigned in Leominster District Court on a charge of enticing a child under the age of 16.
A judge ordered him to have no contact with the witness in the case and to have no contact with children under the age of 18.
Between April 11 and April 17, Marino allegedly exchanged explicit messages with a person he believed to be a 14-year-year-old boy on a social media app that is “commonly used by individuals to engage in conversation that often becomes sexual in nature and has led to in-person meetings,” investigators wrote in the complaint.
During the alleged chat, Marino is said to have arranged to meet with the person to engage in sexual acts on April 17, despite knowing the purported age of the individual he was messaging.
On April 17, a Leominster police say an officer was monitoring a new video post made by a person know to law enforcement for “posing as a minor on various social media sites,” “engaging in sexually explicit conversations,” “eventually meeting people in person,” and “posting videos of the incidents an interactions.”
The video showed a “man being confronted by another man about meeting a minor for the purposes of engaging in sexual acts,” the criminal complaint said. The live-streamed video, which was said to be recorded in the area of Lancaster and Central streets, showed a man quickly fleeing the scene in a black Ford Explorer with a Massachusetts registration.
Leominster police queried the SUV’s registration and learned it was registered to the Stow Police Department. Stow police reviewed the social media video and identified one of the men as Marino, according to the complaint.
State police later interviewed the producer and poster of the video before meeting with Marino for questioning.
While speaking with investigators, Marino allegedly admitted to chatting and setting up a meeting with a boy he believed to be 14, in addition to traveling to Leominster in his police cruiser, and deleting messages, call logs, and social media apps that he used on two phones.
“The members of the Stow Police Department are deeply disturbed, shocked and disgusted after hearing of the alleged actions of Chief Marino,” the department’s statement read in part. “These alleged actions are outrageous in any civilized society but amplified in a small community such as Stow.”
The Stow Board of Selectman accepted Marino’s resignation from the department during an emergency virtual meeting on April 22.
Marino has a pre-trial conference hearing scheduled for Sept. 2.
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