BOSTON (AP) — A state senator’s husband was indicted Thursday on charges of sexual assault, distributing nude photos without consent and criminal lewdness.
The indictment of Bryon Hefner, the husband of Democratic Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, came months after The Boston Globe reported on allegations that Hefner sexually harassed or abused several men, some of whom had business before the Legislature.
Prosecutors said Hefner sexually assaulted three victims between 2014 and 2016. They said he also obtained nude and partially nude photos of another victim without that victim’s knowledge and sent or showed the photos to other people.
“Today’s indictments on multiple felony charges send a clear message that we will not tolerate behavior of this kind,” Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “I want to thank the victims who have come forward and put their trust in us.”
Hefner’s attorney said he “intends to plead not guilty and looks forward to contesting the evidence and confronting the witnesses against him in a court of law.”
Hefner is set to be arraigned on April 24 in Suffolk Superior Court, prosecutors said.
Rosenberg, who is separated from Hefner, said these are “serious charges.”
“They are now being handled by the judicial system,” he said in a statement. “I have faith in that system and trust that it will adjudicate this case fairly.”
Rosenberg, who’s in his late 60s, announced in January that he had separated from Hefner, who’s 30, and that Hefner had entered treatment for alcohol dependency.
Democratic state Senate President Harriette Chandler, who replaced Rosenberg as president, called the charges “deeply disturbing.”
“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 in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, both Republicans, said they “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.”
The initial reports that several men had accused Hefner of sexual assault or harassment sent the chamber into turmoil late last year, resulting in Rosenberg’s decision to step down.
The Senate Ethics Committee voted to hire a Boston law firm to independently investigate whether Rosenberg violated any Senate rules in connection with the allegations. That probe is ongoing.
Rosenberg, a state senator since 1991, had initially hoped to return as president once the investigation was completed, but pressure mounted on senators to move on after the Globe subsequently reported that Hefner had involved himself in matters before the Senate. That included having access to Rosenberg’s email account, despite Rosenberg’s earlier promise to keep a “firewall” between his professional and personal lives.
A lawyer for Hefner said at the time that Hefner “did not have independent access to his husband’s official email.”
Rosenberg has repeatedly said that Hefner did not influence his actions and decisions as Senate president.
Rosenberg assumed the top leadership post in January 2015. He was the first openly gay leader of either legislative chamber in Massachusetts.
Democratic state Sen. Karen Spilka last week announced that she had secured commitments from enough of her colleagues to become the next Senate president, essentially ending any hope of Rosenberg’s return as president. Rosenberg continues to serve as senator.
When Chandler, who’s 80, took over after Rosenberg’s decision to step down, she said she intended to serve as president only through the remainder of this year.
Associated Press writers Bob Salsberg and Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report.
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