The Stow Board of Selectman is expected to meet Wednesday to consider officially placing the town’s police chief on leave following claims he attempted to solicit a teenager, authorities said.
Ralph “Rusty” Marino put himself on indefinite administrative leave after meeting with officials from Massachusetts State Police on Saturday, the Stow Police Department said in a statement Monday.
Sgt. Darren Thraen was named as acting chief, and Marino was relieved of his duties, according to the statement.
“The members of the Stow Police Department are deeply disturbed, shocked and disgusted after hearing of the alleged actions of Chief Marino,” the statement said. “We fully understand that these alleged actions, if true, may serve to undermine the trust that the Stow Police Department has worked hard to create within the Stow community.
“These alleged actions are outrageous in any civilized society but amplified in a small community such as Stow.”
A video posted to YouTube by Predator Poachers Massachusetts, a group that claims to catch sexual predators on online dating sites, prompted the meeting between state police and Marino.
A man is shown in the video confronting someone the group claims to be Marino. The man tells the other individual that he is an activist who poses as young boys online to catch predators. He goes on to accuse the person, allegedly the chief, of trying to solicit a minor.
The individual who the group claims to be Marino then leaves in a police-issued car. The confrontation appears to have happened in the past week in Worcester County.
Sources told MassLive that investigators believe it was Marino in the video.
The organization’s video later shows a chat log in which Marino is accused of having a sexual discussion with a member of the organization who pretended to be a 14-year-old boy. The group claims the chief sent photographs of himself in the chat.
Predator Poachers Massachusetts is not affiliated with law enforcement.
The Worcester District Attorney’s office and state police both said they are not releasing any information about the matter currently. The Stow Police Department confirmed state police are investigating the accusations, though.
“We thank the public for the trust that you have placed in us and we are working tirelessly to ensure that this trust is preserved and strengthened despite the allegations surrounding the news from this weekend,” the department said in its statement.
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