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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Councilors call for Corey Robinson to ‘step aside’

LOWELL — City Councilor Corey Robinson’s fellow councilors pushed back Monday on his statement that he had “no intention” of stepping down from his District 2 seat representing the Centralville neighborhood following his arraignment last week in Lowell District Court on two charges of assault and battery on a family/household member.

Councilors John Drinkwater, Wayne Jenness, John Leahy, Vesna Nuon and Paul Ratha Yem released a joint statement late Monday, calling for Robinson “to step aside from his position on the City Council pending the final outcome of the legal proceedings.”

It was a stunning declaration following fast-moving developments in a case that broke last week in which disturbing details are still being released.

Robinson was fitted with a GPS monitor and several other restrictions pending his return court date on Jan. 11, but he told his colleagues by text that his legal issues would not get in the way of his official duties on behalf of the citizens of Lowell.

“I am not able to tell my side of this story yet due to the stage of the process this is currently in,” he wrote to his colleagues. “I 100% deny these allegations. … I have no intention of stepping down as I know I am innocent of these charges.”

At least five of his colleagues believe he should.

“As elected officials who share a commitment to public service and the welfare of our constituents, we wish to address a matter of significant concern that has recently come to our attention. The serious legal charges against Lowell City Councilor Corey Robinson and the information contained in a police report from an incident that allegedly occurred last week depict actions that simply can never be tolerated. While we honor the legal principle that all individuals charged are innocent until proven guilty, and trust that the legal system will provide for a fair examination of this matter before any final conclusions are reached, we believe that Councilor Robinson’s continued participation in the proceedings of the City Council while the criminal litigation is ongoing would significantly erode the public trust in our elected body. Furthermore, it will serve as an unnecessary distraction from the collaborative work necessary to serve the residents of Lowell.”

Dracut Police Department records provided more insight into the events that led to Robinson’s Nov. 16 arrest. According to a police report obtained by The Sun, officers responded to a 911 call of a report of a domestic argument at an apartment complex on Kilby Street at approximately 7 p.m. Wednesday. The call was placed by the woman’s attorney, with whom she was on the phone when Robinson arrived at the residence, and he heard the beginning of the alleged altercation, the report states.

According to the police documents, attorney Stephen Barton was speaking with her in regard to clearing outstanding warrants when she stated, “Corey’s here…he’s coming upstairs,” followed by a commotion and the sound of something breaking. Barton told police in his statement that he heard the victim say over the open line, “Why did you just hit me in the head” and recognized the voice in the background as Robinson’s.

The alleged victim then stated, “he’s strangling me,” before the line went dead, and the attorney immediately dialed 911, according to the police report.

Responding officers also spoke to neighbors, who stated that they heard an argument between a man and woman, including the woman screaming “you hit me,” according to the report.

From her living room window, a neighbor told police that she witnessed the alleged victim and Robinson in a “heated argument.”

“I saw (the victim) running and Corey was after her,” the witness told police in a statement. “(The victim) was screaming for help while she was running.”

Responding officers stated in the report that when they arrived, Robinson was gone, but they found the alleged victim in the rear of the apartment complex with “abrasions and scratches on both sides of her neck.”

She was also bleeding from an area near the lower portion of her neck, from a fresh abrasion, just above her right collarbone, according to the police report. It noted the alleged victim was “removing leaves and clumps of loose hair from her head,” which the police report stated was “consistent with someone with long hair who had been in an altercation, during which having their hair violently pulled.”

The alleged victim received onsite medical attention, according to the report, and the police photographed her injuries and secured her hair and other items into evidence bags.

Through Barton, the victim provided the police a verbal statement on the alleged assault and Dracut Police charged Robinson with two counts of assault and battery on a family/household member. Roughly four hours after the alleged incident, Dracut Police notified Robinson that he was being charged with domestic assault and battery and requested he turn himself in, which he declined to do.

“Corey indicated he was not going to turn himself into the Dracut Police and would be at the courthouse in the morning,” the report states.

Shortly after, Dracut and Lowell police attempted to take Robinson into custody at his home in Centralville, but were unable to locate him, at which time they requested Lowell District Court issue a warrant for his arrest.

According to the report, one charge was for allegedly pulling the woman’s hair out of her head, and the other was for allegedly “placing hands around the neck and causing abrasions/bruising.”

The police report states that there have been numerous calls to the alleged victim’s address in response to domestic incidents involving Robinson.

“Throughout the year the Dracut Police Department has responded to Kilby Street on five separate occasions for incidents involving (the alleged victim) and Corey,” the report said. “Two of these incidents were domestic related.”

The order of detention obtained by The Sun noted “prior incidents between the two involving reported suicidal statements by vict(im) which she denies.” Under the findings section, the court noted that the “defendant has a history of orders issued against him or her pursuant to the statutes listed” in regard to abuse prevention.

Robinson’s attorney, Ryan Sullivan, released a statement on Monday saying that his client was “understandably embarrassed to be in this situation based on the allegations that he emphatically denies. … Please know that we take these allegations extremely seriously and have no doubt that when more information is obtained in the investigation, Mr. Robinson’s innocence will be clear to all.”

“The allegations against Councilor Robinson are very serious and troubling. There is no place in our society for domestic violence and I strongly condemn these alleged actions,” Mayor Sokhary Chau said by text. “We believe guilty perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and victims should be heard. While these charges are pending, the Council will closely monitor the situation, and determine the best course of action for the city and residents.”

“I strongly condemn domestic violence of any kind and believe any such allegations warrant a thorough investigation. Based on my position as an officer of the court, it is improper to make any statements regarding the court proceedings involving Councilor Robinson,” Councilor Dan Rourke, who works in the court’s probation department, said in a statement.

Councilor Kim Scott said she “wanted to consult the solicitor before making a joint statement.”

Councilors Rita Mercier and Erik Gitschier could not be reached for comment, and Robinson did not return a request for comment as to whether he plans to attend Tuesday’s weekly City Council meeting.

The City Council meets in the second-floor cambers of City Hall, 375 Merrimack St. on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. To speak at a meeting, contact City Clerk Michael Geary before 4 p.m. the day of the meeting at 978-674-4161 or [email protected].

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