Bernard Sigh is Deval Patrick’s brother-in-law. Sigh, 67, was married to the former Massachusetts governor’s sister, Rhonda Patrick-Sigh. Sigh is serving eight years in prison for rape.
On November 14, Patrick announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to be president of the United States. Patrick said in making his announcement, “In a spirit of profound gratitude for all the country has given to me, with a determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American Dream for everyone: I am today announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.”
Patrick and his sister, Rhonda, were born to musician Pat Patrick and Emily Wintersmith in Cook County, Illinois. Their father abandoned the family in 1960. As a result, the former governor and his sister were raised in their maternal grandparents’ home.
Sigh and Rhonda Patrick-Sigh have two children, son Brandon and daughter, Bianca. Sigh was first convicted of the spousal rape of Rhonda Patrick-Sigh in San Diego, California in 1993. Following that conviction, Sigh served a short time in prison and spent five years on probation. In 1997, the couple reconciled and moved to Milton, Massachusetts, where Deval Patrick and his family also lives. In 2019, Sigh was convicted of raping Patrick-Sigh again. Sigh was sentenced to six to eight years in prison for the crime in June 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sigh’s Case First Came to Light During Deval Patrick’s First Run for Governor in 2006
The Boston Herald reported in 2006 that Sigh had failed to register as a sex offender. This occurred during Deval Patrick’s first campaign for governor. A campaign spokesman told the newspaper at the time that the Sigh family were “very upset and distressed that they have been dragged into this campaign of negative attacks.” That spokesperson added, “For someone to now try to drag a family member, a private citizen, who turned his life around, and reconciled with his wife, into the middle of a political campaign is disgusting.” Patrick added that Sigh’s children had been unaware of the charges their father had faced until the media reports.
The Herald described Sigh and his wife as being “avid churchgoers who counsel couples crises.” The same article said that the couple had donated $1,600 to Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign. One of their children also donated $250.
2. The Sex Offender Registry Board Decreed in 2007 That Sigh Did Not Need to Register as a Sex Offender
The Herald reported that in 2007 an official with the Sex Offender Registry Board in Massachusetts ruled that Sigh did not have to register as his conviction occurred in California and that he did not pose a significant threat.
That official, Anthony Paglia, filed a whistleblower lawsuit over the affair. Paglia alleged that the board-chairwoman, Saundra Edwards, and executive director, Jeanne L. Holmes, had tried to influence him into ruling that Sigh should remain a Level-1 sex offender, which would have required him to register. Edwards and Holmes had been appointed by Patrick.
Paglia said that he had been demoted following the incident, resulting in his resignation in 2008. The board eventually settled with Paglia for $60,000 in April 2014. A few months following that settlement, Patrick fired Holmes and Edwards. A September 2014 Brockton Enterprise editorial speculated that those firings were as a result of their roles in Patrick’s brother-in-law’s case. The Boston Globe’s reporting also speculated that the firings were personal in nature. Paglia later served as chief of staff to Massachusetts Republican Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. Sigh was never required to register as a sex offender.
Edwards later filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts alleging that she disagreed with Paglia’s assertion that Sigh didn’t have to register because “rape is rape.” In that suit, Edwards denied Paglia’s allegation that she “verbally berated” him to the extend that he was required to seek treatment at a hospital.
3. A Victims’ Lawyer Has Said That Bernard Sigh Would Be Deval Patrick’s Willie Horton
In September 2014, victims’ lawyer Wendy Murphy told the Boston Herald that Governor Patrick’s behavior was “insulting” to women.
Murphy said in 2017 that Sigh would be Patrick’s “Willie Horton,” if he chose to run in 2020. In 1986, Horton, a convicted murderer, was released under a weekend furlough program in the Massachusetts prison system under then-Governor Michael Dukakis. During his furlough, Horton raped a woman at gunpoint. The case was brought up frequently during the 1988 presidential election.
4. In the 2017 Rape, Sigh Was Accused of Telling Rhonda Patrick-Sigh, ‘If You Don’t Shut Up This Will Be a Lot Worse’
The Boston Herald reported in December 2017 that a judge had ordered Sigh be held in custody after he was accused of raping Patrick-Sigh again. Judge Mark Coven said that Sigh “[presented] a very real, immediate, imminent and clear danger.”
The Herald’s reporting goes on to say that in December 2017, Rhonda Patrick-Sigh said that her estranged husband had agreed to vacate their home. Later that same day, she says she found Sigh hiding in a closet wearing only his underwear. Patrick-Sigh alleged that Sigh held her down and trapped her in their bedroom. During that time, Patrick-Sigh says that her husband gave her an ultimatum that would result in the pair having sex. She says the pair had sex twice against her will. WCVB, citing documents, reported that Sigh told his wife, “If you don’t shut up this will be a lot worse.”
A Milton police officer testified in court that Sigh’s actions were similar to those reported in California in 1993. The officer cited a police report in his testimony. The court also heard that in October 2017, Sigh accosted Patrick-Sigh in a bathroom in their home when she refused to have sex with him. She alleged that Sigh took a viagra and assaulted her. When Patrick-Sigh finally went to the police to report the abuse, she was accompanied by her brother’s wife, Diane. Sigh was indicted in February 2018.
5. Sigh Suffers From Parkinson’s Disease
Sigh was convicted in Dedham, Massachusetts in June 2019 on two counts of rape, kidnapping, stalking, witness intimidation and violating a restraining order, the Associated Press reported at the time. As a result of his conviction, Sigh could have faced 20 years in prison, prosecutors had been asking for 22 years. The AP reported that the judge cited Sigh’s Parkinson’s disease as playing a part in sentencing. In court, Sigh described his actions as “selfish and thoughtless.”
Prior to his trial and while out on bail, Sigh had been found guilty of violating an abuse-prevention order was put in custody. Sigh was also accused of having contact with Rhonda-Sigh after he emailed her.