A member of the school committee in Chelsea, Massachusetts, appeared in court Tuesday on charges he raped a child and enticed a child, court records show. Prosecutors said the victim was 12.
Henry Wilson is also under investigation for having an inappropriate relationship with a student, the school district announced Tuesday.
City officials were notified by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office that Wilson would be arraigned in Chelsea District Court Tuesday on charges related to an inappropriate relationship with a student in the Chelsea Public Schools system, Chelsea Superintendent Almi Abeyta said in a statement.
"District officials are cooperating fully with the District Attorney, Chelsea Police Department and other agencies involved in the investigation," Abeyta said, adding that an order has been issued barring Wilson from any campus in the Chelsea school system and from contact with any student.
The boy told investigators that a man offered him a ride in his car on June 28, while the child was walking on Broadway in Chelsea, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office. The man allegedly took him to a parking lot and sexually assaulted him in an incident partially caught on cellphone camera.
The family reported the sexual assault to Chelsea police later in the week, on July 2, prosecutors said, adding that the boy's assailant was identified as Wilson, who is 56.
“These allegations are horrific," Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said. "This is an elected member of the Chelsea School Committee. He has done nothing but surround himself with children and to be accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy is, it's horrific.”
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According to Rollins, Wilson and the boy were not known to each other, and the assault is alleged to have happened once.
Wilson spoke with detectives on Monday, when he was placed into custody, according to prosecutors.
"He was in a position of power and routinely sought out opportunities to surround himself with children. Now, he stands accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old child that is over four decades younger than him," Rollins said in a statement, calling the attack "heartbreaking."
Wilson lives across from a playground, and moms in the neighborhood say the allegations are unthinkable.
“You trust these people to nurture your kids you know what I mean and you just don’t know nowadays like who’s on the hunt for kids and it’s disgusting,” neighbor Ana Ventura said.
Court records showed that Wilson was being held on $50,000 bail on the charges of aggravated rape of a child and enticement of a child under 16 and is next due to appear in court Sept. 9. His attorney had no comment at the court house Tuesday.
Judge Matthew Machera ordered Wilson to stay away from the victim, his family and his home, as well as to avoid unsupervised contact with children and not work or volunteer in roles that involve children, prosecutors said.
School district officials didn't provide more details about the inappropriate relationship Wilson is accused of having.
Chelsea police Chief Brian Kyes said Tuesday there is no indication “as to whether there are any additional victims pertaining to the arrest of Henry Wilson of Chelsea. However, if anyone has any information regarding this case or others, they are strongly encouraged to contact the Chelsea police at 617-466-4835."
Investigators are looking into Wilson's background to see where he has worked and reaching out to make sure there are no other victims.
According to his school district biography, Wilson has been on the committee since 2018, and before that was a youth mentor for the district's students as well as a member of the Chelsea Planning Board and Zoning Board. He received several community awards, including the Community Service Award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Chelsea Celebration Committee and the 2013 Community Leadership Award from the Neighborhood Developers.
“He’s volunteered with youth before, he’s worked in positions where he’s around young people and to have allegedly engaged in this behavior, it’s deeply, deeply disturbing,” Rollins said.
“We just have to be aware. We have to inform our kids. Let them know,” Ventura said. "You just never know who is here to harm your child.”
NBC10 Boston reached out to Wilson's attorney for comment Tuesday night.
Sex assault resources are available at the National Sexual Violence Resources Center and the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-4673. Since it was first created in 1994, the National Sexual Assault Hotline has helped more than two million people, according to its website.