Last month a media story appeared on-line accusing Haverhill School Committeeman Scott Wood, now a candidate for mayor, (and a current Haverhill Police Officer) of using the “N” word in an electronic message 20 years ago.
The allegation stems from an unconfirmed report when Wood initially applied to the police department back in 2013. With no chain of evidence or an IP address ws provided to prove the message actually came from Wood.
Police Chief Alan DeNaro refused to hire him. DeNaro later admitted that he and the police department did not follow proper procedure in denying Wood the job, and to avoid a lawsuit, the city agreed to destroy the document containing the allegation and hired Wood as a police officer.
“None of the information that was printed in that story was based on actual facts or proof,” Wood told Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan on the Paying Attention! Podcast.
“It was all based on here say, which is the reason why there was a legal agreement between myself and the city. This was supposed to be an agreement where the document with the false allegation would be destroyed, and the information would never to appear in my file or be used to discredit me in the future.”
“There was never any proof on this, nothing was ever tied to me. There was no IP address showing it came from me. There was no chain of custody on the electronic message I am accused of sending. No evidence was ever provided that proved who was actually behind this message.”
“The most frustrating part of those media reports is that he (the reporter) spoke to former Police Chief Alan DeNaro and the chief actually told him that I was never tied to this electronic conversation, yet he printed it anyway.”
Wood says DeNaro even wrote a letter admitting he had mistakenly refused to hire Wood over an unsubstantiated allegation.
“Chief DeNaro sates in his letter that the background check they did had two major mistakes in it; he never interviewed me about the matter as is required for anyone applying to be a police officer. He also stated that they never confirmed any of this was me.”
“He further states in his memo that ‘Everyone is entitled to the opportunity to address any reported inaccuracies or accusations that are made against their character. Unfortunately, I failed tp ensure that this was done at the time of the initial investigation. The responsibility for that rests entirely with me.”
Q: So you’ve said that there’s no proof it was you, but I want to ask you outright, was it you? Did you ever use the “N-word” towards or about Black people in any capacity?
“I’ve not used the “N-word” towards black people, no. And I don’t think I have ever been accused of racism by anybody in my life. I’ve been a cop for more than ten years. I got appointed in October of 2020. I was a cop in Wenham and Merrimack College and a short time in Methuen as a special. Nothing has come up in my background checks for any of the other departments.”
“This is all coming from my political opponents. I was made aware a couple of months ago that Councilor Barret was planning these attacks. Her campaign manager was talking about it with people that I know. So this was a planned, coordinated attack. My guess is that they had people within the police department for whatever reason who were willing to provide them with confidential documents.”
“We are now moving ahead with a lawsuit, because I felt it was the only way to clear my name, number one. But also to make sure that other people and other employees are not treated like this. Because I’ve had a lot of calls from people, I don’t think I’m the only one this has happened to.”
Q: One of the other accusations in the story is an allegation against you from another police department for sexual harassment. So, did you sexually harass somebody?
“I didn’t. But here’s the thing, none of that was ever based on a formal complaint. My records at those colleges don’t show any complaint. So, all of that is based on, once again, here say. There was never anything in any of my personnel files complaining that I did anything wrong. It was just someone who told somebody I did something. But, again it somehow found it’s way into a news story.”
Wood provided letters from each of the police chiefs he has worked under saying that nothing in his background checks at those departments showed any misgivings about Wood’s character. One Chief wrote to the Haverhill department during his second background check that they would be happy to hire him back.
“Now if there was any credible accusation against me they certainly wouldn’t be putting this in writing. There’s simply nothing there. And by the way the only police background check I have ever seen made public in my lifetime is Scott Wood. If you go to any other police department and request an officer’s background check you are not going to get that. Why? Because that’s protected by law.”
Q: Where did the media get copies of your background check? I understand they got it from the District Attorney’s Office. Why does the District Attorney’s office have a copy of Scott Wood’s background check?
“Because the Haverhill Police Department, as said in my lawsuit, told me if I didn’t resign from the department, they were going to give it to them. They told me that if I did resign no one would ever see it.”
When asked who in the police department said that to him he said the “Chief Pistone.”
Wood said that there was no chance this issue was going to get him to drop out of the Haverhill mayors race. “They can say what they want, day in and day out, the voters will decide. I will absolutely unequivocally not drop out. I don’t care what they say. In fact, I’m going to win because I truly believe the voters of Haverhill ultimate care about the issues we are facing in the future. I don’t believe they buy into these fake, toxic allegations with zero proof. I think the voters are smarter than that.”
“But, I welcome any investigation from anyone. If the Inspector General wants to investigate me, I’m all for it because I know none of these allegations are true. So, bring it on.”
“Ultimately this has ended my career in law enforcement. I think my career is over. I think people will google it and read it and it will be very difficult to continue in this field.
Q: Did they fire you?
They didn’t even officially put me out. They just said no hearing, no due process, just don’t show back up here. This is totally a violation of Civil Service laws.
What I can say is that when I am mayor, employees will not be treated this way under my watch.
To watch the full interview visit the Paying Attention, Studio 21 YouTube page or visit the Valley Patriot Facebook page under videos.