Settlement reached in police officer suit, terms undisclosed

Brian Butler 

SALEM — The city and a former police officer convicted of sexually assaulting a man in protective custody at the Salem police station nearly three years ago have reached a settlement in a civil suit filed by the victim. 

Brian Butler, 58, is serving a 3 1/2 to five year prison term at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater following his conviction on an indecent assault and battery charge last year. 

His victim in that case later filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Butler and the city had violated his civil rights, that Butler had inflicted emotional distress, and that the city was negligent in training and supervision of the officer.

In a filing last week in U.S. District Court in Boston, lawyers for the victim, for the city and for Butler notified the judge that the case had been settled. 

The details of the settlement were not disclosed in the filing. 

City solicitor Beth Rennard said the city's insurance carrier, the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, would be responsible for paying out the settlement, which she had not seen. The city would be responsible for a deductible — $5,000 to $7,500 — which likely had already been expended in attorney fees, she said.

The city was represented by outside counsel, Douglas Louison. A separate firm, Pierce, Davis and Perritano, represented Butler. 

Lawyers from the firms representing the city and Butler did not respond to emailed requests for comment on Tuesday. 

The victim's attorney, Adam Becker of Keches Law Group, said he was not able to comment on the settlement.

The Salem News first reported on plans for settlement talks back in August, when the case was referred to a mediator. That mediator also notified the court that there was a proposed settlement.  

The victim in the suit had traveled from his home on Cape Cod with his sister and her then-boyfriend to spend Halloween 2016 in the Salem, which, he later testified, had been a dream of his since seeing the movie "Hocus Pocus" as a child. 

But while sightseeing and bar-hopping on the night before Halloween, the man said he drank too much. Back at the Clipper Ship Inn, he passed out while in the bathtub, flooding his room, and police placed him in protective custody. 

Early on the morning of Halloween, Butler showed up to work his shift as house officer. Even before starting the shift, however, Butler began interacting with the young man, who was naked in a holding cell because his clothing was wet.

Butler then directed the man to a broom closet in the station, where the sexual assault occurred, the jury found. Butler was cleared of a rape charge but found guilty of an indecent assault and battery count. 

Butler is the former husband of Salem police Chief Mary Butler. 

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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