The former deputy police chief in Walpole faced a judge for the first time on Thursday, accused of groping another police officer in his department vehicle.
Christopher Mackenzie was charged with indecent assault in February. However, his arraignment in Quincy District Court was delayed while courthouses remained closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses said Mackenzie looked “extremely intoxicated” when they encountered him at a local restaurant, where he'd shown up with his department vehicle.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
A female police officer with another department gave Mackenzie a ride home, according to the complaint. That’s when she told investigators that he reached over the center console and touched her inappropriately.
After pleading not guilty, Mackenzie and his defense attorney, Joseph Eisenstadt, declined to answer questions from NBC10 Boston.
When the allegation reached town leaders in July, they placed him on paid leave over the summer.
Records uncovered by the NBC10 Boston Investigators show town leaders discussed the allegations against MacKenzie in closed-door meetings months before he was charged in court.
Minutes from a non-public meeting in August 2019 of the town's Board of Selectmen show board members, the town's lawyer and police chief discussed a draft agreement allowing MacKenzie to resign.
Two months later, while those discussions were still ongoing, MacKenzie surfaced as the top candidate to become police chief in Seekonk.
Seekonk Town Administrator Shawn Cadime told officials in that town that after screening 27 applicants for the job, MacKenzie was his top pick to lead the police department. He cited MacKenzie's two decades of experience in Walpole and his prior management training.
But Cadime abruptly suspended the nomination two weeks later, however, saying only that "new information" about MacKenzie had surfaced.
MacKenzie's resignation in Walpole was finalized in November, according to documents obtained by the NBC10 Boston Investigators.
Mackenzie’s wife, Nancy, is an elected member on the Board of Selectmen. At the time, critics — including a fellow selectman — questioned why town leaders kept the incident quiet while the former deputy chief searched for another job.
Records show Nancy Mackenzie recused herself from executive session discussions about her husband. She declined to answer any questions about the town’s handling of the situation outside of court.
Kevin Mullen was appointed as the special prosecutor in the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest with the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office.
Mackenzie’s next court date is slated for January.