77 Days to Decide: House Candidate Faces Honesty Questions Over Police Past, Strip Search

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

A Republican candidate for Congress in Massachusetts could have an honesty issue on his hands, following several reports that raised questions about his conduct during his days as a local police officer.

Jeffrey Perry, a state representative who used to be a sergeant in the Wareham Police Department, has been the subject of a series of critical articles exploring his law enforcement past. The latest shoe to drop came Tuesday, when sworn testimony emerged quoting his former police chief saying Perry was not "100 percent truthful" on the job.

Those documents came on top of claims that Perry made questionable statements about his involvement in two illegal strip searches in the early 1990s. In addition, Massachusetts media have drawn attention to an old campaign website in which Perry touted his diploma from Columbia State University, an outfit that federal officials shut down and accused of being a diploma mill.

The allegations have provided ready fodder for GOP primary opponent Joe Malone, who raised the issue at a debate Tuesday.

"It's becoming more and more apparent to voters that Jeff has a hard time telling the truth," Malone, a former state treasurer, told FoxNews.com.

Perry -- who has enjoyed endorsements from GOP heavyweights like Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and former Gov. Mitt Romney -- has battled the accusations. Though the campaign could not be reached for comment Tuesday, Perry said in a statement to the Boston Globe that he "tried very hard to be a good police officer" and received "positive recommendations" from his superiors while he worked there.

But Thomas Joyce, the former police chief in Wareham, testified in civil suits that as an officer, Perry "had not been 100 percent truthful to me." According to the testimony, obtained by FoxNews.com, Joyce testified that Perry did not tell the truth about how he broke a radar gun and, separately, was improperly fiddling with red-light sensors at intersections to catch drivers.

Joyce said Perry was at one point passed over for promotion in favor of someone he apparently trusted more.

Joyce, however, said Perry was promoted later on because "he was a good police officer" and "aggressive" and he "did his job." Joyce said: "You can't crucify a person forever."

The testimony was connected with lawsuits brought by the parents of two teenage girls. The Boston Globe first reported in May that the parents had accused an officer under Perry's supervision on two separate occasions of illegally strip searching their daughters.

In the first incident, the complaint said an officer under Perry's command in 1991 ordered a 14-year-old girl to "pull up her shirt until her breasts were exposed" during a drug search, according to the Globe. The newspaper reported that Perry "observed" the search without taking action.

In the second incident, the complaint said Perry was supervising the same officer the following year when he told a 16-year-old girl to pull down her pants during a marijuana search. According to the Globe, testimony from the parents said Perry later accompanied the officer to the girl's house and told them about the search -- this, however, was seen as an attempt to keep them quiet.

Though Perry at the time denied wrongdoing and told the Globe he "did not observe anything inappropriate," the testimony offers conflicting accounts. According to the Globe, Perry was dismissed as a defendant in one case -- both cases ended in a settlement without an admission of wrongdoing.

Perry also has claimed he got duped by Columbia State University.

But Malone called Perry's claims into question.

"I say, man oh man, when you add up all of the stories here, it is just very, very difficult to take this guy seriously," Malone said.

The Republican primary in the House race to succeed retiring Rep. William Delahunt will be held Sept. 14. Malone is Perry's closest competition, but no polls have been released in the past month showing where the race stands.

An internal poll conducted for Perry in June showed Perry leading Malone 41-25 percent among likely GOP primary voters in District 10.