Domestic charges against Det. Rivera dismissed

Domestic charges against Det. Rivera dismissed

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A judge has dismissed domestic charges against a town police detective, saying that accusations against him were embellished and otherwise not credible.

District Court Associate Judge Mary McCaffrey last month dismissed charges of misdemeanor domestic disorderly and domestic simple assault against Detective Luis Rivera after hearing the matter for trial over several afternoons, according to a court transcript.

Rivera, 39 at the time of the incident a year ago, returned to an administrative role with the North Providence Police Department a few days after his arrest based on a complaint by his ex-girlfriend. Chief Arthur Martins said at the time that there was nothing that caused him to question Rivera returning to work. Mayor Charles Lombardi said at the time that Rivera is one of North Providence’s “stellar employees” and a prolific detective.

The North Providence resident took a personal leave following his January 2020 arrest by the Rhode Island State Police. According to the court record, he and Juliette Arias had broken up in the summer of 2019 but were still living together at the time of the incident on Jan. 20, 2020.

The incident in question appeared to stem from Rivera being angry over Arias allegedly lying to him over what she was doing after promising to make some money to pay him back for expenses. She testified that Rivera had used bad words with her, that he became physical with her, putting a finger in her forehead and poking her shoulder very hard, and she tried to push past him but he grabbed a ceiling chandelier and tried to pull it out to throw it toward her.

But Rivera testified that he went to talk to Arias about their agreement that they would share bills, she started laughing, an argument ensued, and she pushed him, his head hitting the chandelier.

According to an audio phone recording made by Arias, Rivera was the first person to say not to touch him, at around the time the chandelier was heard shaking. Arias then demanded money and stated twice to stop treating her badly and to not touch her.

The judge said Arias embellished her story in claiming that Rivera said during their fight that he would cancel her cell phone, as that statement was texted to her the next morning. She claimed that she went to his room the next morning and he pushed her out. Rivera testified that Arias tried to push her way into his room and told him as she did that she would tell police that he had assaulted her.

Rivera called North Providence police and they responded, finding no evidence of a physical assault or damage to the chandelier. According to officers, she said Rivera had been somewhat abusive toward her over the years, but didn’t mention anything about an assault on Jan. 20.

When police left, Rivera, Arias and Rivera’s aunt, who was also the real estate professional who would be showing his Andover Street home later that day, were still at the house. His aunt testified that Arias made no accusations that she’d been struck, that she was not in distress, and that there was no damage to the property (an undated photo later provided by Arias would show the chandelier hanging down a bit).

After eventually leaving the home that day, Arias realized that her cell phone service had been disconnected and she went to the Rhode Island State Police to report the incident and say she’d been assaulted, states the court transcript. State Police then decided to charge Rivera based on her testimony about what happened early on the morning of Jan. 20. Arias then filed for a temporary restraining order, but she was denied her request for a three-year restraining order, another judge deciding that she did not appear as a credible witness. It appears, said Judge McCaffrey in her ruling, that each time Arias tells her story, “it becomes a little bit more embellished and a little bit further apart or further afield from what actually happened on the evening of Jan. 19 into the morning of Jan. 20.” It appeared that Arias at some point pushed Rivera “to agitate him into responding,” she wrote.

Arias appeared to achieve the goal Rivera said she was trying to achieve in getting him out of the house and getting to live at his home for nine months without contributing to the mortgage, said the judge. McCaffrey cited several instances of inconsistent testimony, saying Rivera was the more credible of the two witnesses and she did not find that he assaulted Arias, and that she was instead the aggressor.

“Quite frankly, I don’t find her testimony to be credible,” she said. The judge did find that some of the name-calling by Rivera was inappropriate, “but just because somebody is called a name doesn’t mean that there’s disorderly conduct.”