Bryon Hefner

Bryon Hefner indicted on assault and lewdness charges

 

Bryon Hefner indicted on assault and lewdness charges

A grand jury Thursday indicted Bryon Hefner, the husband of Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg, on multiple charges of sexual assault, criminal lewdness, and distributing nude photographs without consent.

The indictments, issued by a statewide grand jury, follow a joint investigation by the attorney general and the Suffolk district attorney into allegations by several men, first reported by the Globe, that Hefner assaulted and harassed them during the past few years, when Rosenberg was Senate president.

The alleged victims told the Globe that Hefner boasted of his influence on Beacon Hill and that they were reluctant to report his assaults for fear of alienating his powerful husband and harming their careers. Two of those men say they are among the four victims cited in Thursday’s indictment.

The indictments are a dramatic turn in a months-long controversy that led Rosenberg to step aside from the presidency late last year.

Hefner, 30, was indicted on five counts of indecent assault and battery. The indictments allege one victim was assaulted on three occasions in Boston in 2015 and 2016 — once in an apartment, once in a restaurant, and once in a car. That alleged victim told the Globe last year that Rosenberg was present in the car but that he did not know whether the then-Senate president was aware of the assault. The Globe found no evidence that Rosenberg, 68, knew of any of Hefner’s alleged assaults. According to the indictment, Hefner sexually assaulted another victim in 2014 and exposed his genitals to that same victim in 2016, and assaulted a third victim in the summer of 2016.

Prosecutors also say Hefner obtained nude and partially nude photographs of another victim without his knowledge, and sent or showed the pictures to four other people without the victim’s consent.

“Today’s indictments send a clear message that we will not tolerate behavior of this kind,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement, thanking the victims for coming forward.

District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said the joint investigation had revealed “a disturbing pattern of conduct that was not only inappropriate, but criminal. . . . We know the facts specific to this case, with many of the parties working in politics and government, made it especially daunting to come forward.”

Hefner will receive a summons to appear in Suffolk Superior Court on April 24 to be arraigned on the charges. Most of the counts carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison.

“It’s surreal,” one of Hefner’s alleged victims said. “I know most survivors of sexual assault never get their day in court. I’m still afraid of what happens next, but I’m also confident that all of the survivors are going to be able to get through it.”

He also said he hopes Hefner “is somewhere praying.”

Hefner’s attorney, Tracy Miner, said he would plead not guilty to the charges.

“Mr. Hefner . . . looks forward to contesting the allegations in a court of law, where evidence must be produced and witnesses can be confronted,” she said in an e-mail.

In a statement to the Globe in November, Hefner said he was shocked by the men’s allegations and could not respond to anonymous accusers. If the case proceeds to trial, those who accuse him of assaulting or exploiting them will probably face him in a courtroom.

Rosenberg, in a statement, said: “These are serious charges. They are now being handled by the judicial system. I have faith in that system and trust that it will adjudicate this case fairly.”

The indictment will likely intensify the turmoil that began in the Senate after the allegations first surfaced, costing Rosenberg his Senate presidency and leaving the chamber in disarray as others jockeyed to replace him. It comes just as a senator has claimed the votes to be the next president and legislators are attempting to move forward with the business of lawmaking.

In an emotional statement the day after the allegations against his husband first emerged, Rosenberg said he was heartbroken and expressed sympathy for those who said Hefner had assaulted them. Rosenberg, who had vowed that there would be a firewall between his personal life and State House business after an earlier controversy over Hefner’s meddling in Senate business, insisted again that Hefner had no influence over the business of the Senate.

He said Hefner had entered an inpatient treatment center for alcohol dependence. The couple has since separated.

Acting on claims that Hefner had boasted of his influence on Beacon Hill, Rosenberg’s Senate colleagues launched an independent investigation to determine whether the then-Senate president had violated chamber rules. That investigation is pending. Rosenberg stepped aside as president, initially for the duration of the Senate investigation, and Senator Harriette Chandler temporarily assumed the presidency.

Her tenure was extended after the Globe revealed in February that Hefner appears to have been more involved in Senate business than Rosenberg had claimed, with documents and some who dealt with Hefner revealing that he had access to the Senate president’s official e-mail, calendar, and contacts; had lobbied on a budget amendment; and showed a deep knowledge of Senate matters. Rather than waiting for the investigation to conclude, senators have decided to move on: Last week, Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka announced she had rounded up enough votes to be their next president.

Current Senate President Chandler called the charges against Hefner “deeply disturbing” and applauded the victims for coming forward to authorities.

“Clearly, the actions described will not be tolerated, and the Senate will cooperate fully with the district attorney and attorney general’s office,” she said. “These charges illustrate why it is critical that the [Senate] investigation be completed in as thorough a manner as possible.”

In a statement Thursday, Spilka called the Hefner indictments “the latest turn in one of the toughest periods in the history of the state Senate.”

“My colleagues and I are heartsick for the victims of these alleged crimes,” Spilka said. “There is simply no place for assault and harassment of any kind. While this and other investigations continue, it is important for all potential victims to feel safe to come forward to investigators so that the full truth can be known and addressed.”

Senator Barbara A. L’Italien, an Andover Democrat who is running for Congress, said Thursday was “a very sad day for the Senate.”

But, she added, “I do believe that the victims now feel that their stories have been heard, have been taken seriously, which I was advocating for all along. I’m sure they now feel they’re on the path toward justice being served.”

Senator Bruce E. Tarr, the Senate minority leader, said he hopes the criminal justice system works “swiftly and effectively to address what’s been alleged.”

“The behavior alleged in these indictments is shocking, it’s despicable, and it’s completely unacceptable,” Tarr said.

A spokeswoman for Governor Charlie Baker said he and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito “commend those who came forward to report these despicable actions and believe those who engage in crimes and sexual harassment of any kind must be held accountable.”

One of the men who told his story to the Globe, but who is not among the victims included in the indictment, was distressed to learn yet more men allege Hefner assaulted them.

“There are so many victims,” he said. Coming forward last year “was the right thing to do,” he added. “I feel some validation in that.”

The investigation into Hefner will continue, Healey and Conley said, and they appealed to others with information or allegations related to the case to contact them.

Boston Globe



Bryon Hefner, Rosenberg’s husband, pleads not guilty to multiple charges

The scandal that ended the Senate presidency of Stanley C. Rosenberg moved out of the State House and into the courthouse Tuesday as Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, faced accusations that he sexually assaulted three men and disseminated naked photos of a fourth without his consent.

Prosecutors alleged that Hefner engaged in a pattern of assaults and misconduct over multiple years, and detailed the alleged acts in vivid terms — Hefner repeatedly groped two men against their will, kissed another “aggressively on the lips without his consent,” and boastfully showed nude photos of yet another man who said he never agreed to having the pictures taken.

Hefner, 30, pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault, four counts of distributing nude images without consent, and one count of criminal lewdness in Suffolk Superior Court.

He did not show emotion at the short arraignment. Assistant Clerk Magistrate Lisa Medeiros released Hefner on personal recognizance, forbade him from contacting victims or witnesses (except two people, whose names were not disclosed), set the trial for the spring of 2019, and prohibited him from State House grounds.

Boston Globe



Howie Carr: Stanley Rosenberg, Bryon 'Pee-wee' Hefner brought chamber to new lows

I always believed no two people could ever do more damage to the abysmal reputation of the Massachusetts state Senate than Billy and Whitey Bulger did.

But that was before the lovebirds of Beacon Hill ­— Sen. Stanley Rosenberg and his Pee-wee Herman-look-alike spouse Bryon Hefner.

Rosenberg is resigning as of 5 p.m. today — the first time his snout will have been out of the public trough since Jimmy Carter was president. Although of course now the pension kicks in, because he wasn’t expelled, he resigned, due to ill health.

Boston Herald

 

Bryon Hefner Could Receive a Hefty State Pension upon Stan Rosenberg’s Death

Hefner, who was accused of sexual harassment, is listed as the recipient of his husband's benefits should Rosenberg pass away.

Bryon Hefner’s pockets could someday be lined with tens of thousands of dollars in state pension money.

Hefner, who pleaded not guilty in April to sexual assault charges, is set to receive annual benefits from Massachusetts in the event of the death of his husband, former Senate President Stan Rosenberg. According to the Boston Globe, Rosenberg, who resigned from the legislature in May, designated Hefner as the recipient of his pension in the case of his death in an application filed with the State Retirement Board last week.

Rosenberg, who spent nearly 40 years in public service, will receive roughly $84,420 a year from the state, according to the Globe. Should he pass away, Hefner could receive around $58,260 annually, the Globe reports.

Allegations that Hefner had sexually harassed and assaulted several men surfaced in November. Accusers told the Globe that they hesitated to come forward for fear of retribution from Hefner and his powerful husband. Hefner was indicted on five counts of indecent assault and battery, one count of lewdness, and four counts of distributing photos without consent in March.

Though Rosenberg was not found to have violated any Senate rules in relation to Hefner’s behavior, a damning report released in May found he had “failed to protect the Senate from his husband, whom he knew was disruptive, volatile, and abusive.” He resigned soon after the report’s release under pressure from colleagues in both parties.

Hefner’s trial is scheduled next year.

Boston Magazine


Bryon Hefner draws FBI scrutiny

The FBI has begun looking into allegations that Bryon Hefner, the husband of state Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg, assaulted several men with State House connections while boasting of his influence on Beacon Hill, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The agents are interested in whether Hefner offered a quid pro quo to his alleged victims, using his relationship with Rosenberg — then the Senate president — to influence the chamber’s business in return for sexual favors. Rosenberg has stepped down temporarily from the top post.

The fact that the FBI is making inquiries does not mean a formal investigation is underway, or that charges will ultimately be brought. And it is unclear whether Hefner or Rosenberg, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, is the main target of the inquiry.

Boston Globe


Bryon Hefner sent Sen. Stan Rosenberg sexually explicit texts, nude photos

Bryon Hefner sent his husband, former Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, sexually explicit text messages about legislative staffers and senators. Hefner sent Rosenberg text messages of naked men, and Rosenberg saw Hefner show a nude photo to another elected official.

These were among the details included in a report of the Senate Committee on Ethics, based on an investigation done by the law firm Hogan Lovells. The report concluded that Rosenberg demonstrated "a significant failure of judgment and leadership."

"That failure undermined the integrity of the Senate and had destructive consequences for the Senate and the people with business before it," Ethics Committee Chairman Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, said in a statement on behalf of the committee. "Essentially, Senator Rosenberg failed to protect the Senate from his husband, whom he knew was disruptive, volatile and abusive."

Hefner has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges, including sexual assault. The report details five separate instances where Hefner was accused of engaging in nonconsensual sexual touching with four different men.

Independent investigator Anthony Fuller of Hogan Lovells said there no is evidence that Rosenberg was told of the alleged assaults, and Rosenberg said he was not aware of any unwanted touching.

But Rosenberg was aware of Hefner's inappropriate behavior. The report states that Hefner sent multiple sexually explicit texts to Rosenberg, including one text in 2016 where he stated, "I want to roofie (a Senator) and make a sex tape," referring to a date rape drug. Rosenberg told investigators that Hefner sent him pictures of naked men that he downloaded from the internet as a joke, and Rosenberg told him to stop.

Investigators found that Rosenberg failed to adequately address what he did know of Hefner's sexualized conduct toward Senate personnel. "We conclude he should have known that Bryon Hefner was likely to engage in sexually harassing conduct toward personnel," Fuller said.

In 2014, after Hefner posted disparaging comments on social media about outgoing Senate President Therese Murray, Rosenberg said he maintained a "firewall" between Hefner and his work in the Senate. The report found that the firewall was ineffective. Hefner had unfettered access to Rosenberg's email. In two instances, Hefner sent unauthorized emails pretending to be Rosenberg.

Rosenberg stepped down from the Senate presidency during the investigation.

The Senate Ethics Committee is recommending that Rosenberg be barred from serving as Senate President, as a member of Senate leadership or as chairman of any committee through 2020. The full Senate will have to vote on the recommendations.

Rodrigues said the Ethics Committee believes it should be up to Rosenberg's constituents whether he should continue to serve in the Senate.

Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, and Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, both called on Rosenberg to resign.

"The Senate's ethics report reveals a deeply disturbing pattern of behavior, making it clear that Senator Rosenberg has compromised the business of the Chamber and trust of his constituents," Baker said. "For the good of the institution and those who elected him to serve, I believe the Senator needs to resign immediately."

Healey said, "It's clear to me that Stan Rosenberg cannot continue to serve in the Senate. I think it's best if he steps down immediately."

Rosenberg's spokeswoman declined a request for comment.

Rosenberg told investigators that he believed Hefner's inappropriate conduct was the result of an undiagnosed mental illness and alcohol abuse. The couple has since separated, and Hefner sought treatment for alcoholism.

The report provides explicit details of Hefner's inappropriate behavior.

In 2013, Hefner repeatedly touched a Senate staffer's foot in a social setting, then sent text messages asking for a "sleepover" at the Beacon Hill condo that Hefner and Rosenberg shared. Hefner texted the staffer a photograph of what he said was his penis.

A Senate staff member in 2015 and 2016 said Hefner sent him numerous sexually suggestive text messages. One read, "You weren't my gift under the Menorah this year. I'm mad at Santa," and was followed by a text of Hefner sitting shirtless on Santa's lap.

One of the reports of sexual assault came from a policy advocate who said Hefner grabbed the man's genitals while Hefner propositioned the advocate. Hefner touched the same advocate under the table at a political dinner while the advocate was moderating a discussion. He later asked the advocate to have sex with him in a bathroom. Hefner told the man he had access to Rosenberg.

Hefner on one occasion berated a Senate staffer with inappropriate racist comments. The staffer told Rosenberg, who said he would do everything he could to prevent Hefner from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

The report found that Rosenberg gave Hefner access to his Senate email account from 2009 to 2017. Although there is no evidence Hefner influenced Rosenberg's official actions, the report found that Hefner repeatedly abused his access to Rosenberg's computer.

Hefner contacted Rosenberg's staff in 2013 to try to gain funding for a program for at-risk youth that Hefner worked for. Another time, Hefner forwarded an email sent to Rosenberg by a policy advocate to his colleagues at the program, marking it "confidential."

On two occasions in January 2017, Hefner wrote emails pretending to be Rosenberg, trying to set up meetings related to official Senate business.

Hefner also criticized and demeaned Rosenberg's staff.

In one case, Hefner texted two staffers from Rosenberg's phone as if he were Rosenberg, writing, "you're all still failures for your lack of foresight. ... Sometimes the best person for the job is a straight white man."

Rosenberg told investigators that he could not completely wall his spouse off from his work, and he wanted Hefner to have access to his calendar, but he never allowed Hefner to influence his decisions.

The Senate held a five-hour closed-door caucus Wednesday, and senators plan to convene again Thursday as they decide whether to adopt the recommendations of the Senate Ethics Committee to bar Rosenberg from leadership.

"The independent investigation report presented today was thorough and troubling. Like my colleagues, I am taking time tonight to further review the report and the strong recommendations of the Ethics Committee," said Senate President Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, in a statement. "This has been a trying time for the victims and witnesses in this case, for Senate staff, for Senators, and for the Senate as an institution. I am hopeful that after tomorrow, we can begin turning the page and healing as a body."

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, a member of the Ethics Committee, called the report "very, very serious."

"There was clearly a failure of judgment here, and there was clearly a failure of leadership, and those failures had consequences that harmed the Senate," Tarr said.

Tarr called it "intolerable" that people felt threatened by the Senate president's husband.

Rodrigues said the allegations of a culture of harassment are "sad," "disappointing" and "something we should do everything in our power to change."


masslive.com

 

 

 

 

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