BOSTON — The Democratic leader of the Massachusetts Senate said Thursday he supports an independent investigation into allegations that his husband sexually assaulted and harassed several men, including some with business before the Legislature.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg, in a statement, also promised to recuse himself from any matters related to the investigation or the allegations reported by The Boston Globe.
The newspaper said it spoke with four men who said Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, sexually assaulted and harassed them over the past few years. Three of the men told the Globe that Hefner grabbed their genitals and one said Hefner kissed him against his will.
The Globe said it uncovered no evidence Rosenberg knew about the alleged assaults, though in some cases, he was nearby when the incidents occurred. Rosenberg, in an earlier statement Thursday, said he had not previously been aware of allegations against his husband.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker called for an immediate investigation by the Senate.
“Frankly, I’m appalled by the allegations. They’re disturbing. They’re distressing. And I really felt for the people when I read the story who came forward,” Baker told reporters. “It’s really important for the Senate as soon as possible to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations.”
Baker said any investigation must ensure those who come forward are protected against retribution.
He stopped short of calling for Rosenberg to resign, saying “the decision about whether the Senate president steps down during that investigation should be decided by the Senate and by the Senate president.”
Rosenberg gave no indication if he planned to step aside from the key leadership post he has held since 2015. He said he had authorized Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, of Worcester, the number two Democrat in the Senate, to work with Republican Leader Bruce Tarr, of Gloucester, and Senate counsel to determine how the investigation should be structured and carried out.
“While the Senate President will be recused in this matter, he will remain in the Office of the Senate President and retain his responsibilities for all other matters before the Senate,” Chandler said in a statement, according to CBS Boston. “I look forward to working with the Minority Leader in the true spirit of bipartisanship to resolve this issue in a transparent and…