Top official at MA Court Officer Training Academy resigns following abuse allegations

The director of security at the academy that trains officers who serve in Massachusetts courts stepped down, a day after a report of an investigation looking into claims of abuse at the academy were released.

Jefferey Morrow was at the helm of the Massachusetts Court Officer Training Academy for eight years.

Last spring, Morrow issued a memo indicating there were no issues at the academy. But a five-month report and a subsequent 100-page report showed abuse was rampant.

The document is detailed and contained more than a dozen redactions, including entire paragraphs that were blacked out.

Recruits told investigators they were “struck in the face” or “strangled” by academy staff.

The report describes the implementation of a “paramilitary” training model in 2014 which the investigators described as “flawed and ill-advised”.  

According to the report, the model is more applicable to law enforcement officers and lead to deep dissatisfaction.

It says “many recruits from various classes described a culture of fear, intimidation, humiliation, disrespect, punishment-based discipline, and retaliation.”

According to the report, five recruits in one academy class “were either struck in the face or strangled during defensive tactics training or ‘extra help’ sessions.”

Instructors were heard bragging about recruits getting kicked out including “a disabled recruit who did not pass…by one pushup,” the document lays out.

In another instance, per the report, six recruits were told “You’re on your own. Find your own transportation to the hospital” after they suffered serious eye damage from being pepper-sprayed in the face.

Following the report’s release, training and programs at the academy were suspended.

In June, retired Somerset Police Chief Joe Ferreira publicly raised concerns about allegations of hazing and abuse at the academy.

He said the abuse happened to a family friend and included claims of slapping and screaming at trainees. Ferreira is an elected member of the Governor’s Council.

“I think resignations are the beginning. I know that certain agencies are looking into criminal charges,” he told 25 Investigates. “I think the trial court needs to take a serious look at those that were dismissed unlawfully from the academies and try to make them whole somehow.”

After investigative reporter Ted Daniel first reported about the abuse allegations, an outside team was brought in to look at all aspects of the Trial Court Academy and two high-ranking academy officials, Heather Broulette and Nick DeAngelis were placed on leave.