Massachusetts police officer charged with repeatedly raping 16-year-old homeless girl while on duty

Alex Lasker

A 49-year-old Massachusetts police officer was arraigned Thursday on two charges of rape after he allegedly sexually assaulted an underage homeless girl multiple times while on duty.

Officer Kevin Garneau, a 19-year veteran of the Lowell Police Department and well-known bicycle patrol officer, was serving as a member of a community homeless outreach program in 2016 when he met the victim, who was 16 years old at the time.

The girl, whose identity has not been released, was then living in a tent in an area of Lowell set up to offer shelter to the town's homeless population, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. 

Garneau, originally from Pelham, N.H., allegedly entered the teen's tent and falsely told her she had multiple warrants out for her arrest but promised not to arrest her in exchange for "sexual services." 

The officer raped the teen victim, who was reportedly addicted to heroin, several more times in the months following the initial assault, the district attorney said.

The Lowell Police Department said it learned of the disturbing allegations in January 2019 and immediately launched an internal investigation.

The department notified the Middlesex District Attorney's Office of its findings in May 2019, according to a statement. Officer Garneau has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal proceeding.

"I'm astonished and deeply disappointed," Superintendent of Police Raymond Kelly Richardson said of the case. "I acted as soon as we were made aware of these allegations."

"This is not what the men and women of the Lowell PD represent," he added. "They police legally, respectfully and compassionately."

Clerk Magistrate Daniel Flaherty released Garneau on personal recognizance and ordered him to be placed on a GPS monitoring device and to stay away from the victim. 

The officer is scheduled to reappear in court on July 23.