The police chief in Stow, who put himself on indefinite administrative leave following claims he attempted to solicit a teenager, has been charged with enticing a child younger than 16, according to court documents and news reports.
Information on the Massachusetts trial court website indicates Ralph Marino was charged in Leominster District Court on Tuesday.
WHDH News, citing a criminal complaint filed in court, reported that Marino allegedly exchanged explicit messages with a person who represented themselves as a 14-year-old boy between April 11 and 17 on a social media app.
While talking with the individual, Marino planned for the two to meet and engage in sexual activity on April 17, reported WHDH.
Leominster police on April 17 were monitoring a live-streamed video online and saw a man in a black Ford Explorer with Massachusetts plates. Police checked the registration and learned the SUV was registered to the Stow Police Department, the television station reported.
Marino, who is known as “Rusty,” placed himself on indefinite administrative leave after meeting with officials from Massachusetts State Police on Saturday, the Stow Police Department said Monday in a statement.
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.
In the video, a man is shown confronting someone the group claims is Marino. The man tells the other individual that he is an activist who poses as young boys online to catch predators.
Sources told MassLive that investigators believe it was Marino in the video. Predator Poachers Massachusetts is not affiliated with law enforcement.
“The members of the Stow Police Department are deeply disturbed, shocked and disgusted after hearing of the alleged actions of Chief Marino,” the statement from Stow police 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.”
The trial court website did not list an attorney for Marino.
Stow Police Sgt. Darren Thraen has been named as acting chief.
- Stow Police Department ‘deeply disturbed’ after hearing of alleged actions of Ralph ‘Rusty’ Marino, chief accused of teen solicitation
- Stow Police Chief Ralph Marino relieved of duties after group claims he tried to solicit teen