SALISBURY — The final report on the internal review into criminal allegations against former police Chief David L'Esperance is scheduled to be released to the Board of Selectmen in a private session tonight.
Following the selectmen's review, the written report is expected to be made public.
According to Town Manager Neil Harrington, selectmen will receive copies of the report completed by retired Salem police Chief Robert St. Pierre following their regularly scheduled board meeting tonight.
The report will be handed over in an executive, or non-public, session, which is the last item listed on the selectmen's agenda tonight.
Harrington anticipated the non-public session would not be short.
"I imagine Mr. St. Pierre will give the board a summary of what's in the report, that the board members will ask questions, then they will read the report and ask more questions after they've read it, if they have any," Harrington said Friday.
Harrington, who hired St. Pierre to conduct the review, said he had not seen the report, nor had he any input into its preparation or how the probe was conducted. However, he said it is his understanding that the written report is lengthy. The town manager said St. Pierre was told to go wherever the evidence took him, adding that he conducted an internal review and not a criminal investigation.
"Mr. St. Pierre conducted the investigation and is the only one writing the report, which will be reviewed by the town's attorney prior to its release," said Harrington, who served as mayor in Salem for several terms while St. Pierre was police chief.
Harrington does not expect selectmen to reconvene in public session after they discuss the report in private, unless they decide to take some action during the executive session that would require a public vote. He said the report will be released to the public after the non-public session is adjourned.
St. Pierre's contract with the town prohibits him from speaking to anyone about the investigation or the report, Harrington added.
The internal review into L'Esperance and the Salisbury Police Department resulted after undisclosed criminal allegations were made against the former chief by unidentified individuals.
L'Esperance, who was placed on paid administrative leave after the allegations surfaced on Dec, 6, abruptly announced his retirement as chief last Tuesday. Accompanied by his attorney, he delivered his written notice of retirement at a scheduled interview with St. Pierre as part of the internal review. L'Esperance has declined to comment on the advice of his attorney.
"He declined to be interviewed and instead handed ... a letter of resignation addressed to me," Harrington said last week.
Harrington, also following the advice of counsel, has refused to discuss what the allegations of criminal activity against L'Esperance are and who and under what circumstances they were made. He has said he acted quickly when the allegations were first made to protect the reputation of the Salisbury Police Department after a discussion with Seabrook police Chief Patrick Manthorn confirmed his department had heard similar allegations.
Although rumors have swirled concerning the allegations against L'Esperance, he has not been formally charged with any crime, nor has he been arrested.
Some have speculated a federal investigation is being conducted. The Boston spokesman for the FBI said the bureau's policy is to neither confirm nor deny its investigations.
L'Esperance, 50, was hired as Salisbury's police chief in April 2006, beating out more than 40 other candidates for the job. Prior to Salisbury, he spent 20 years in the West Newbury Police Department, holding the position of detective corporal before becoming one of the department's two sergeants. He earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Springfield College and law degree from Massachusetts School of Law and passed the bar in 2003. A native of Lynn, he now lives in Seabrook.
Harrington said that prior to the allegations arising, he had been pleased with L'Esperance's performance as chief.
Lt. Kevin Sullivan has been serving as acting police chief since L'Esperance was placed on leave, and will remain in the position until Harrington decides how he will select a permanent replacement.