King scandal grows

Following his December arrest for assault, Ward 22 Alderman Drew King has become embroiled in accusations of illegal overcrowding in a “sober house” he manages, failure to pay taxes due and drug abuse.

King, who represents Morse, Stiles, Silliman and Timothy Dwight College, as well as Swing Space and the Dixwell neighborhood, has maintained his innocence and said he is determined not to resign his position on the Board of Aldermen. He was first arrested on Dec. 22 after a dispute with a young woman who described herself as King’s girlfriend and told police that he had beaten her with a stick at a “sober house” he owned at 274 Edgewood Ave. Police later arrested King — the third alderman in recent months to face criminal charges — and charged him with third-degree assault, second-degree unlawful restraint and disorderly contact.

After the initial arrest, King said in an interview that police should not have arrested him because the woman had hit him first after he took a piece of sausage off her plate, and because he been the one to request police presence in an effort to scare away the cocaine and heroin users who refused to leave his property. King, who is chairman of the city’s Public Safety Committee, said it was “the saddest thing” that the New Haven police would arrest him based on what he said was a fabrication when “we have murders all around.”

But King was subsequently arrested twice for violating a protective order barring further contact with the accuser and jailed for several days over New Year’s weekend. The city, meanwhile, launched an investigation that revealed that King had not properly registered his so-called “sober house,” was allowing too many unrelated people to stay there and owed back taxes on both the Edgewood property and another house he owned on Sherman Ave.

Now, King has checked himself into a local clinic for a month-long rehabilitation program, though he says he has been drug-free for many years, despite police reports suggesting he was under the influence of drugs when arrested. He said he is “maintaining his innocence” and is above all concerned about the safety and wellbeing of his family.

“It’s just very sad,” said King, who added that he will likely return to his position on the Board in about a month. “I don’t think that people really did see the fact that number one, I’m a landlord.”

In past weeks, Board of Alderman President Carl Goldfield has become increasingly skeptical of King’s ability to carry out the remainder of his term, though he has stopped short of calling for his resignation.

“I’m hoping that Drew will be able to come to the right decision on his own,” Goldfield said. “It’s very difficult to see how he could continue at this point, but all the facts aren’t in.”

News of King’s arrest, which was picked up by media outlets across the country, was reported in the context of recent aldermanic run-ins with the law — an altercation involving Ward 1 Alderman Nick Shalek ’05 outside a bar this summer, for which charges were dropped shortly after the incident, and decision by former alderwoman Barbara Rawls-Ivy to plead guilty to embezzling nearly $50,000 from a city agency.

Goldfield said some may have a lesser opinion of the city’s government as a result of the publicity, but he emphasized that none of the aldermen in question violated the law while acting in their official capacities.

Many alderman contacted were hesitant to comment on the King arrest and property foreclosures until more facts surface, instead expressing hope that King is able to recover personally.

In the aftermath of the initial arrest, King said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. told King he still supported him. But as details have come to light, DeStefano has become more harsh and insistent on King’s permanent resignation.

“There’s 125,000 people in this city and things like this happen and it’s unfortunate, but the mayor does feel that it raises serious questions about Mr. King’s ability to serve on the Board and about his involvement in public service,” mayoral spokesman Derek Slap said. “At some point very soon, he’s going to have to provide some answers.”

In an interview after the first arrest, Ward 24 Alderwoman Elizabeth McCormack, who chairs the Aldermanic Affairs Committee, urged residents to not rush to conclusions.

“I believe that we have to have a fair process,” McCormack said. “He hasn’t been convicted of anything.”

King, who is 55 and married, has not yet entered a guilty or innocent plea but will do so in court this month.

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