City, victim in settlement talks over 2016 sexual assault by cop

Hadley Green/Staff file photoBrian Butler, a former Salem police officer who was found guilty of indecent assault and battery, listens to an impact statement given by the victim during his sentencing hearing last summer in Salem Superior Court.

SALEM — Lawyers for the city are "actively engaged" in settlement discussions with a Cape Cod man who was sexually assaulted by a now-former Salem police officer in 2016, according to filings this week in a federal civil rights lawsuit. 

Brian Butler is currently serving a 3 1/2-year to 5-year state prison term, following his 2018 conviction on an indecent assault and battery charge. He was found not guilty of a rape count. 

Butler is currently held at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater. 

His victim was a young man who had traveled from Cape Cod to Salem with family members to celebrate Halloween in 2016. The man testified at Butler's criminal trial that he'd had too much to drink, and after accidentally flooding a room at the Clipper Ship Inn, was placed into protective custody. 

Butler took over as the "house officer" while the man was still in custody, and eventually led him to a broom closet in the station, where the acts occurred. 

He resigned after he was charged in the case. 

The man and his family filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court last year against Butler and the city of Salem. 

On Wednesday, lawyers for the man, as well as for the city and Butler, told a magistrate that they are pursuing settlement talks and asked the court to appoint a mediator, according to docket entries in the case. 

That update came after Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal denied a joint request from the attorneys to cancel a status hearing on Wednesday, telling the lawyers she wanted updates on whether the parties have completed the process of exchanging evidence and any other progress in the case. 

The case was then sent to Magistrate Judge Judith Dein for mediation; a session was scheduled for late next month. 

Butler is currently represented by lawyers John Davis and Samuel Gates, and the city is represented by Douglas Louison.

Boal scheduled a hearing for a status conference in the case on Oct. 2 and asked that the lawyers report to her by Sept. 30 as to any progress they have made. 

Butler is the former husband of Salem police Chief Mary Butler. Their divorce was granted in April.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.

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