Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today they are prepared to open a criminal investigation into the allegations leveled against Bryon Hefner, the husband of state Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.
The development adds a new dimension to the firestorm that's engulfed the State House and Rosenberg, who just hours earlier said he was taking a leave of absence from his powerful post amid an internal Senate investigation.
In a joint statement, Healey and Conley said the first step is speaking with alleged victims and witnesses.
"We ask anyone with this information to contact either office, and we remind every survivor of sexual assault that they can count on us to provide a safe, respectful, victim-centered environment, no matter what the circumstances might be," the statement said. "Sexual assault is a crime and we want to send a clear message that harassment and assault of any kind will not be tolerated."
Senators, meanwhile, were huddled in a closed-door caucus in the State House, where they were expected to debate the process of picking a new leader to succeed Rosenberg.
Rosenberg this morning told senior senators he is taking a leave of absence from his powerful post amid an investigation into allegations his husband sexually assaulted or harassed multiple men.
"I believe taking a leave of absence from the Senate Presidency during the investigation is in the best interest of the Senate," Rosenberg said in a statement. "I want to ensure that the investigation is fully independent and credible, and that anyone who wishes to come forward will feel confident that there will be no retaliation.”
Rosenberg sent a letter to Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, informing her that he is stepping away from the presidency.
The Boston Globe last week published allegations from four men that Bryon Hefner groped or forcibly kissed them while boasting of having influence inside Rosenberg's office. All four work in political or State House circles.
Rosenberg's move will set up a scramble to fill the top post, at least on an interim basis, as the Senate prepares to hire an outside special investigator.
The Herald reported today that jockeying to replace Rosenberg has already begun, with at least three senators lining up votes in case he resigns.
Sens. Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Boston), Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell) and Sal N. DiDomenico (D-Everett) each scrambled over the weekend to line up votes they would need to take the presidency, after Sen. Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover) said she’ll ask Rosenberg to step down at today’s caucus.
Multiple senators declined to comment after they left a leadership meeting this morning.
Asked if he's received word that Rosenberg is stepping away, Sen. Mark Montigny told reporters, "Let me go up to caucus and get the letter."
After Hefner had embarrassed Rosenberg with unprofessional behavior a few years ago, the Senate president had vowed to establish a firewall between his personal and professional lives. In a statement to reporters Friday during which he described himself as "shocked and devastated" by the allegations, Rosenberg insisted that Hefner, who plans to seek inpatient treatment for alcoholism, has “no influence over policy, the internal operations of the Senate, or any Senate-related business.”
Rosenberg, one of the three most powerful politicians on Beacon Hill, is a 31-year Democratic veteran of the Legislature from Amherst....Read more