Animal House — the sequel

Globe says rep grabbed female colleague’s backside

IN ONE OF the more bizarre State House stories in a long time, the Boston Globe is reporting that state Rep. Paul McMurtry of Dedham grabbed the “backside” of a female legislator at an orientation session for lawmakers last month in Amherst.

The sourcing for the story is complicated. McMurtry, chairman of the House personnel committee, denies the incident ever happened. The unidentified female legislator whose backside was allegedly grabbed isn’t talking. So the Globe’s confirmation comes from one legislator who allegedly witnessed the incident, two who talked to the alleged victim, and others who heard about the incident second-hand.

The Boston Herald reported  that the speaker received four reports about an unidentified lawmaker’s “inappropriate behavior,” but those reports were characterized as rumor. (The Herald refused to acknowledge the Globe story.)

New England Cable News reported that DeLeo received secondhand reports about an incident of “inappropriate behavior” on December 19. “The Speaker’s office was subsequently made aware on January 4, 2019, of a rumor conveyed by one member, by way of a second member, of a name that Matt Stout of the Boston Globe provided,” DeLeo’s spokeswoman said in a statement. (Stout wrote the Globe story with Andrea Estes.)

Despite all this confusion, DeLeo referred the matter to an outside consultant who determined that the allegation of inappropriate behavior/grabbing the backside was “plausible.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The Globe also reports that “this is not the first time controversy has surrounded McMurtry’s office.” The other controversy dealt with two members of McMurtry’s staff — his female chief of staff was accused of making inappropriate comments (she called a woman in another office “Auschwitz Annie”) and another male staffer allegedly engaged in bullying behavior.

Of course, all of the alleged inappropriate behavior hearkens back to stories and columns the Globe wrote in 2017 unearthing a “climate of harassment” at the State House, which leaders vowed to address.