Merolli, Auclair were discussing “future” when found by police
By Ryan Servant
Citizen Chronicle Writer
SOUTHBRIDGE — Two area politicians tell The Citizen Chronicle a brief encounter with police shortly after midnight on Wednesday is a “nonstory.”
Thomas Merolli and Kristen Auclair, who are in a romantic relationship, were detained by three members of the Southbridge Police Department after receiving a report of a suspicious automobile outside an athletic field adjacent to West Street School at 12:12 a.m. on Wednesday, September 26. According to police, Officer Aaron Tetlow arrived on scene and reported a vehicle parked at the lower fields. The vehicle was unoccupied.
Roughly 12 minutes after police received the initial report, Officer Leonard Beane reported that Merolli had been located and detained while police sought clarity on the Mendon resident’s late night activity. Merolli is the Democratic nominee for the Worcester and Norfolk District seat in the State Senate. According to a police log narrative, officers continued to search the trails around the soccer fields “to see if anyone else is there.” Roughly 15 minutes later an additional entry was noted in the log, stating Auclair had been located “on the path further down the trail.”
Merolli told The Citizen Chronicle on Friday that he and Auclair were taking a late night walk to discuss the future at the time of the police department’s arrival.
“I am a single man with a single woman who is my girlfriend. This is a nonstory. We took a walk along a trail to discuss our future plans for after the election,” Merolli said. “No crime was committed, and when [police] verified who we were we were allowed to leave.”
Police logs indicate officers were not convinced of the couple’s story, noting police “couldn’t get an honest answer as to what they were doing there.” Officers advised the couple of the no tresspass signs and sent them on their way.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Auclair reaffirmed Merolli’s account, stating they had “decided to go for a walk after driving around to discuss plans for the future.”
When asked about the roughly 15 minute gap in time between police locating Merolli and then Auclair, the second-term Town Council member said her boyfriend had walked ahead of her toward the lights that were coming from the parking lot.
“When we saw the flood lights from the police I asked Tom to go and see what it was,” she said. “After a short time I followed and was met with the police along the path.”
The relationship was publicly announced on the Merolli campaign’s Facebook page early Friday morning, along with a brief explanation of their encounter with local law enforcement.
“On the campaign trail, I met someone who really means alot to me. It’s not complicated other than I am running for State Senator,” Merolli wrote. “Kristen and I were hoping to wait until after the election about this. But we took a walk as we always do and were talking about life and our future. It seems that this may have been misconstrued by some publications in the area. The simple truth is that Kristen Auclair, who is a volunteer of my campaign and I are in a relationship.”
An attempt to obtain comment from Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson was unsuccessful as of publication of this story.