Hefner indicted on felony charges
Conley: Inappropriate, criminal behavior by Rosenberg's husband
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
A GRAND JURY on Thursday indicted Bryon Hefner, the husband of former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, on felony charges connected with five sexual assaults, criminal lewdness, and the distribution of nude photos without consent.
Hefner, 30, faces five counts of indecent assault and battery, one count of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, and four counts of dissemination of a visual image of a nude or partially nude person, Attorney General Maura Healey and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley announced.
His arraignment is scheduled for April 24 in Suffolk Superior Court.
Hefner also allegedly assaulted another victim in 2014 and exposed his genitals to that same person in June 2016, and assaulted a third victim in August 2016. Prosecutors allege Hefner obtained nude and partially nude photos of another person without that person’s knowledge, and showed them to four other people without consent.
“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,” Rosenberg said in a statement.
Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, stepped aside from the presidency on Dec. 4 amid allegations being made public that Hefner had assaulted men with business before the Legislature and meddled in Senate matters. He said in January that he and Hefner had separated, after Hefner was admitted in December to an inpatient treatment center to receive help for alcohol dependence.[Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham reported that two of the men cited in the indictment had confided in her for a column that first disclosed Hefner’s behavior, for which he is now reportedly in treatment. At the time, the alleged victims did not want their names disclosed, but Abraham said that if the Hefner case goes to trial they will face him in court.]
Conley said his office will support victims and protect their privacy “to the greatest degree possible as we work with AG Healey’s office to hold the defendant accountable.”
“No one, regardless of who they are or where they work, should have to endure the assaults and exploitation alleged in these indictments,” Conley said in a statement. “We see every day that disclosing sexual assault can be the most difficult thing many survivors ever do. We know the facts specific to this case, with many of the parties working in politics and government, made it especially daunting for some to come forward.”
The Senate Ethics Committee in December launched an investigation into whether Rosenberg had violated Senate rules in connection with the allegations against Hefner, bringing on the law firm Hogan Lovells to lead the probe. There have been no updates from the committee on the investigation’s progress.
Rosenberg has said he is confident the investigation will find that Hefner had no influence over the Senate.
The Hefner allegations and corresponding ethics investigation have cast a cloud over the Senate in recent months, and the indictments have the possibility to further unsettle a body that has been striving to move past turmoil caused by the ensuing leadership shakeup and the arrests of a current and former member.
Former Sen. Brian Joyce, was arrested by the FBI and indicted in December on 113 counts, including racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. Sen. Michael Brady of Brockton was arrested over the weekend on drunken driving charges and is due in court for a pre-trial hearing on April 13.
Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka, who announced last week that she has the votes lined up to succeed Chandler as the next president, issued a statement calling news of the 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 – there is simply no place for assault and harassment of any kind,” Spilka said. “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.”
Anyone with information about the case or related allegations can call a dedicated line at 617-963-2638, Healey and Conley said.
Healey said the indictments “send a clear message that we will not tolerate behavior of this kind” and thanked victims for coming forward.
Gov. Charlie Baker, in a statement, struck a similar note.“Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor 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,” Baker communications director Lizzy Guyton said. [Colin A. Young contributed reporting]