The top Democrat of the Massachusetts Senate stepped aside Monday after his husband was accused of sexual misconduct by several men.
State Senate President Stan Rosenberg told other senators that he would relinquish his responsibilities as chairperson temporarily amid a probe of accusations against his spouse, Bryon Hefner.
“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 police investigations is fully independent and believable, and that anyone who wishes to come forward will feel confident that there will be no retaliation.”
Rosenberg initially said he would recuse himself only from matters related to the investigation against his husband.
Several humankinds alleged last week that Hefner sexually assaulted or harassed them, including three men who claimed he grabbed their genitals, The Boston Globe reported. The humankinds, who were not named by the Globe, said they did not report the abuse partly because they did not wishes to alienate the powerful Senate leader.
The Senate elected Democratic Majority Leader Harriette Chandler to take over as the body’s acting president.
State lawmakers also voted Monday to refer the case to the Senate Ethics Committee and authorized the members of the commission to hire a special researcher carried out in independent probe. The examiner would be given the authority to summon eyewitness and have access to Rosenberg’s office.
The investigation will focus on whether Rosenberg knew about Hefner’s behavior or if Hefner had any clout when it came to matters before the chamber. Rosenberg said Friday that Hefner would soon enter treatment for alcohol dependency.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, through a spokesman, called Rosenberg’s decision to steps down “the right one, ” and Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren told reporters, “The charges against the Senate president’s husband are disgusting and the people who have leveled these accuses have a right to be heard and to be respected and protected.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report . i>
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