Hickey hearing (copy)

Robert Hickey Jr., at right, at arraignment on indecent assault and battery charges Thursday in Wrentham District Court. At left, is his lawyer, Brian E. Murphy of Worcester.

A former selectman is denying allegations he indecently touched a board member and physically assaulted a worker at the Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center when he was executive director of the venue.

Robert H. Hickey Jr., 53, of 14 Baker St., Foxboro, pleaded innocent Thursday in Wrentham District Court to indecent assault and battery related to the allegations involving the now-former board member.

Immediately after his arraignment, Hickey appeared at a closed-door show cause hearing before a court magistrate for an assault and battery complaint involving the worker

The magistrate found probable cause, meaning there was enough evidence to issue a summons for a criminal charge to go before a judge for arraignment at a later date.

Hickey's lawyer, Brian E. Murphy of Worcester, said his client is innocent of the allegations.

Hickey, the married father of two adult children, was placed on leave from the theater after being accused of inappropriately touching the buttocks of the female board member twice at the reopening of the center in January 2018.

The woman did not report the incident to police until July 28 of this year, explaining she "just pushed the event out of her mind," according to a police report.

The alleged incident occurred during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the downtown theater, formerly the Orpheum, on Jan. 6, 2018, according to a police report.

The woman, 50, who is not being named because she is an alleged sexual assault victim, was present for Hickey's arraignment with her lawyer, but they declined to comment when approached by The Sun Chronicle.

In court papers filed to obtain a harassment protection order against Hickey, she described the happy mood of the ribbon-cutting and the alleged assault.

"I remember saying to myself, 'Don't make a scene, just get away from him,'" she wrote.

In response to the allegation, Murphy said, "There is a categorical denial. There is no basis for this at all. We're going to take this to trial and I expect we will win."

The other alleged victim, who worked with Hickey at the venue, claims in court papers that he assaulted her and her daughter on May 28 "when he made unwanted physical contact with us, barging past us on the edge of the stage and stairs in a fit of anger." The papers were filed for a harassment order she obtained earlier this month.

Murphy said the woman did not make a complaint when the alleged incident happened and told different versions of it when she did report it in July and when she testified to obtain the harassment order.

"She's lying," Murphy said.

The defense lawyer also rebutted information that has surfaced about Hickey's past, dating to when he was a teenager and was accused of sexually assaulting a female teen in Virginia. The information was disclosed in a report Wednesday by WBZ News.

Hickey was also investigated in 2008 for indecent assault allegations involving a 16-year-old when he owned a sports complex in Mansfield, but no charges were brought because the parents declined to let their child testify. Murphy said there was surveillance video that discredited the allegations.

Hickey was also investigated for an alleged incident in Boston in 2015 involving a 22-year-old woman whose mother tracked her to a motel room with Hickey. The television station reported no accusations were made against Hickey. The woman died in an unrelated overdose in 2018, WBZ reported.

The Foxboro police report filed in the indecent assault and battery complaint says Hickey "has had an interesting past with a track record of victimizing and taking advantage of women. His criminal history is limited but his run-ins with law enforcement have been documented and show an unsettling pattern."

Murphy emphasized that his client has never been charged in any of the prior instances.

"There's clearly no pattern and he's never been criminally charged with anything," Murphy said.

The defense lawyer described Hickey as a "family man" with two children in their 20s who has been "happily married for many years" to his wife Cathy, who accompanied her husband to court.

Murphy also said Hickey has been dedicated to making his community a better place by serving as a selectman and hosting a local cable talk show among other civic activities, including his job running the performing arts center.

Hickey served two terms as a selectman from 2002 to 2008 and was a contributing columnist for The Foxboro Reporter, which is owned by The Sun Chronicle.

He is due back in court Dec. 18.

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.

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