Former O.B. fire chief facing illegal video charge

John Rose was arrested Saturday on charges of videotaping a sexual encounter without permission


Updated, Jan. 24

The former fire chief of Oak Bluffs who resigned years ago amid sexual harassment allegations — and then seemingly given a second chance in another Island town —  has been arrested on a charge stemming from a sex tape.

John Rose, 53, was arrested at Logan airport on Saturday after state prosecutors feared he may be fleeing charges stemming from an investigation into inappropriate filming of a minor.

The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office charged Rose Saturday with filming a sexual act with an individual in their 40s in 2020 without their knowledge, but Massachusetts State Police have been investigating the former chief for allegedly videoing a child secretly.

Rose, who resigned from the Oak Bluffs fire department in 2020 while facing similar sexual harassment allegations, was hired as a volunteer firefighter with the West Tisbury Fire Department; he’s been suspended since December.

On Monday, he was arraigned in Edgartown District Court where he pleaded not guilty to one count of filming an individual during a sexual act without their consent. 

He was released on a $10,000 cash bail, but ordered to wear a tracking device and to stay away from the complainant.

Officials say the charges originated from a December investigation conducted by the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit into reports that Rose had secretly recorded a child; it was during that investigation that police were told by an individual in their 40s that Rose had shown them a video he’d made of them performing a sexual act. The act was allegedly filmed on Rose’s phone in 2020, and was recorded without the individual’s consent or knowledge. 

Since December, Rose, 53, had been on an indefinite suspension without pay from the West Tisbury Fire Department after an uncontested criminal harassment prevention order against him was granted by an Edgartown District Court judge. It is unclear whether the individual who filed that complaint is the same individual who had been unknowingly recorded.

On Monday, Edgartown District Judge Ed Lynch set a $10,000 bail for Rose, and granted a request by the district attorney’s office to impound the police report and case records in order to protect witnesses in the ongoing investigation.

A pretrial hearing is set for March 25.

On Monday at the district courthouse, state prosecutor John Wheatley told Judge Ed Lynch that when Rose was informed of the investigation into his actions, attempts to locate him were unsuccessful. 

According to Wheatley, upon a December search of Rose’s residence, it appeared that Rose had left hastily. Rotting food was found in the refrigerator, dressers were empty and open, and the home’s heating was turned off.

The prosecutor added that on Jan. 19, state troopers were informed that Rose was attempting to board a flight from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Boston. The following morning an arrest warrant was granted, and Rose was arrested after deboarding the flight at Logan airport in Boston.

“What’s most concerning to the Commonwealth is, again, the defendant’s actions right after being informed that this investigation was commencing,” Wheatley said. “It appears from the report that he immediately left his home on Martha’s Vineyard Island, went down to Florida, and as a result he was apprehended after an arrest warrant was executed. And he was discovered at Boston Logan Airport, quite a ways away from the Edgartown District Court.”

On Monday, Rose’s defense attorney argued against the need for a GPS device and a $10,000 bail, highlighting Rose’s presence on-Island as a public servant, business owner, generational resident, and homeowner.

Miliotis told Lynch that the defense had also reached out to a state trooper before Rose’s flight. 

“Your honor, the call was made to the trooper before my client embarked anywhere. A call was made to [the trooper] indicating that both our telephone numbers were available, for any reason that the investigation led to apprehension…[Rose] was returning to the jurisdiction on Saturday.”

“I don’t know why a GPS is necessary, your honor,” Miliotis added. “He’s on the Island. He’s well-known in the community and is not going anywhere.”

Following the argument, the judge decided to require the GPS monitor.

Miliotis and District Attorney Rob Galibois would not comment following Monday’s hearing.

This isn’t the first time Rose has faced sexual harassment allegations.

At the time of his resignation from the Oak Bluffs Fire Department in 2020, Rose had been under scrutiny following a sexual harassment claim filed by a former fire department administrator, who alleged that she’d been treated unfairly and retaliated against for rejecting Rose’s sexual advances. 

Cynthia Hatt, in her resignation letter to the town dated April 2019, acknowledged having an affair with Rose years prior while separating from her husband. She described in the letter that after dating another fire department employee, she was subsequently targeted by Rose, who allegedly created a “hostile work environment” where Hatt faced retaliation that involved losing some of her supervisory responsibilities and overtime pay. 

In her resignation letter, Hatt wrote that she was one of three female employees that she knew of who experienced “inappropriate behavior” by Rose: “After speaking with these women and after comparing our experiences, I began to realize that John Rose has a proven pattern of exploiting female employees,” the resignation letter stated. The letter was obtained by The Times in prior coverage in 2020.

“It has come to my attention that the town has been made aware of the chief’s inappropriate behavior by former employees over the years and have done nothing,” the letter stated. “In light of the recent #MeToo movement, I would like to believe you will take this issue very seriously,” Hatt concluded. “I have felt ashamed for falling victim to my boss’s advances, making it extremely difficult for me to speak up, but I feel strongly it is my obligation to do so now.”

In January 2020, the town of Oak Bluffs agreed to pay Hatt $97,500 through the town’s insurance company to drop the claim, and to admit no fault against Rose or the town.

Around the same time, fire department employees informed The Times that the FBI was probing billing practices of the Oak Bluffs Fire and EMS Department, where town fire officials were being investigated for overcharging the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for off-Island ambulance trips. No charges have been announced in the case.


When Rose announced his resignation in February 2020, he was placed on paid leave and he continued to receive his usual salary of $63.09 per hour until his retirement went into effect three months later. As part of the separation agreement, the town also paid Rose a lump sum of $65,882.70 — half of his annual earnings.

In the beginning of 2022, Rose faced another lawsuit. This time filed by former Oak Bluffs EMT Lt. Rich Michelson, who claimed he’d been terminated from his position in retaliation for attempting to encourage an investigation into Rose’s alleged sexual harassment of “female subordinates.” 

That case was settled out of court later that year. The details of the settlement were not made public. 

Rose was granted a second chance serving as a volunteer with the West Tisbury Fire Department in February 2022. At the time, West Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Pachico told The Times that he believed Rose had “learned his lesson” following the end of his tenure with the Oak Bluffs department, calling Rose a “valuable asset.”

Reached on Wednesday, Pachico said that despite new allegations and now a criminal charge, he does not regret his decision to hire Rose.

Pachico pointed out that Rose was never convicted of any of the allegations that originated in the Oak Bluffs department in 2019. The matter was settled out of court. 

Pachico also noted that Rose was a valuable resource for his department as a firefighter and for offering guidance. Finding the personnel on the Island with that background and experience is difficult, Pachico noted, and that factored into the decision to hire the former chief.

“If he was convicted, that’s another story. He has his rights too,” Pachico said.






  1. Could somebody please explain…Rose ” was hired as a volunteer firefighter with the West Tisbury Fire Department”. Then “Since December, Rose, 53, had been on an indefinite suspension without pay from the West Tisbury Fire Department”. I understood that the definition of volunteer precluded pay…Was he getting paid or not?

    • I believe ‘volunteers’ on Martha’s Vineyard get a yearly stipend they don’t get paid hourly for working.

  2. I realize the island’s fire departments are overwhelmingly male anyway, but nothing says NO WOMEN NEED APPLY like hiring a guy with a history of sexual harassment. Just sayin’ . . .

  3. My rule of thumb is that if something isn’t my business, it’s not my business. That said, I read an interesting comment by Chief Pachico at the end of the article. Chief Pachico skipped the “No Comment” dodge and went on the record. While one interpretation might be that he’s being an apologist, another is that he’s advocating the “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” principle. Along with free speech, it can be a tough one to stick to at times, but it is one of the fundamental underpinnings of Western democracy. It assumes a rational, sensible, and competent judicial system that will get to the bottom of a case, weigh the evidence, and deliver an appropriate verdict. Whether that’s too grand an assumption is a discussion for another day. These foundational principles can be tough to stick by, but the cost of letting them go is daunting. I remember encountering Voltaire’s quote for the first time “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    • Julian, excellent comment. You don’t have to look past the MV Times comments to see the liberal tolerance of the progressives on MV. Alan Dershowitz comes to mind how he was mercilessly attacked for his opinions about Trump. Liberals often stifle other opinions with their weak retort that you are entitled to your opinions but not your own set of facts but then cite their own opinions as facts. Or they will cite a liberal periodical that supports their opinion but if a conservative cites a one of their sources it’s dismissed as fake. A few examples that are off limits to anything opinion based in the liberal group think is Covid, Trump and the environment.
      And Julian, free speech and the right to defend it is everyone’s business and thank you for your post.

      • Thanks, Carl. One of my aims, however imperfectly, is to engage in discussions in these forums in a constructive way and not get into the weeds with personal attacks, hardened positions, polemics, etc. Massachusetts has a rich tradition of free thought and intellectual independence, and I would love to see a return to that ideology. It allows you to step outside of the either/or thinking that so many people are locked and be able to see the valid points in the center of liberal and conservative positions as well as the pure daffiness on the extreme wings.

      • Carl– What are you talking about ? There are
        countless comments about the “covid hoax”here .
        one person even said stay away from people who are wearing
        a mask, as you would stay away from someone
        with a machete.
        And you are certainly kidding about
        “opinions” about climate change.
        But, as far at the “liberal media” censorship
        goes, I will agree to a point. I am sure
        that Sam would not post a letter to the
        editor claiming the Holocaust never happened ,
        but you sure can find plenty of opinions about
        that on sites like rumble, X or storm trooper.
        Right Mr. Budris ? I don’t think they are liberal sites.

        • Don, I see what I did here and now I see that I wasn’t clear. I think I conflated two separate issues. The first was about how some of my comments were not posted. I had to play word games to get them approved for posting in the past. The second part of my comment was when I finally got approved people often criticized them for not being factual while citing opinion pieces as their fact checks. People in the Trump, Covid and climate change camps are so far entrenched that neither side will budge or even see the remotest possibility that new studies may in fact prove old studies to be inaccurate. Not totally inaccurate or incorrect just new technology may prove old to be less reliable. That Trumps border policy was more effective than the current policy of stifling illegal border crossings.

          As for the covid hoax and vaccines I don’t remember anyone’s comments being allowed that said mask don’t work and the covid vax is ineffective. Those didn’t make it. People criticizing those who had those opinions made it. But the people who believed and cited actual MD’s opinions dissenting from the efficacy of covid vaccines did not. Those people were shunned. And now our government experts can’t tell us how they came up with the six foot rule.

      • Carl, have you by any chance noticed that the Island is majority Progressive?
        And that both of it’s newspapers are much closer to the Center?
        When will the very small Island MAGA crowd start their own rag?

        • Albert, yes to your first question and no to your second, I don’t think both papers are much closer to center and maybe that’s because the island is so far left that you can’t see center anymore. And what a silly idea it would be to start a MAGA rag on an island where so very few MAGA people reside.

  4. Ordinary people are not obligated to believe ”innocent before proven guilty”, That is a concept for the courts; for judges and Juries. It is a judicial requirement. We would be foolish if we believed all people are innocent before proven guilty since a high majority of people after adjudication are found guilty.

    • Hi Andrew- thanks for your comment- I admittedly am less-than-knowledgeable about the mechanics of the law- I entertained the concept of law school briefly in college but it’s a road not taken. I think there are mechanics and principles. The principle of cooling emotion and allowing the system to work things out, in general, is a good one. That assumes a rational and effective judicial system, which is a separate discussion.

    • Andy- I agree. And the odds go up on those
      guilty verdicts when
      an individual has
      nearly 100 felony charges pending.
      I’m not talking about anyone specifically mind
      you. I’m just talking about all those “punks” with
      multiple arrests that are facing multiple trials
      for multiple “crimes” .

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