Editorial: Stanley Rosenberg should step aside as Senate president during investigation

Editorial: Stanley Rosenberg should step aside as Senate president during investigation

In his three many years of service within the Massachusetts Legislature, Amherst Democrat Stanley Rosenberg has earned a fame as a lawmaker who makes use of his energy to serve the individuals moderately than the privileged few.
Now, in essentially the most painful chapter of his public life, Rosenberg ought to uphold that fame by stepping apart as Senate president whereas allegations of sexual assault and undue affect by his husband are investigated.
The Boston Globe reported final week that 4 males concerned in state authorities have accused Rosenberg’s partner, Bryon Hefner, of sexually assaulting and harassing them in recent times. Three of the lads say Hefner groped their genitals whereas one other stated Hefner kissed him towards his will. Most of the alleged assaults occurred whereas Rosenberg was close by, however the Globe discovered no proof that the Senate chief knew of them.
The Senate is predicted Monday to start the method of appointing an unbiased particular investigator to guide a probe into the allegations, specializing in whether or not — as the lads say — Hefner compelled sexual contact, and enforced their silence, by exploiting his relationship with Rosenberg. Some have additionally known as for a separate legal investigation into Hefner’s alleged conduct.
We’ve typically discovered Rosenberg to be a lawmaker who eschews cynical politics to concentrate on considerate, progressive governance. Within the wake of current reviews of sexual harassment on Beacon Hill, Rosenberg rightly declared that the Senate has a “zero-tolerance coverage” for such abuse.
However his response to the allegations towards his husband has lacked that forceful readability.
Whereas expressing sorrow for the victims and pledging help for any investigation, Rosenberg felt compelled to emphasize that the assaults had not occurred contained in the State Home — as if the truth that they allegedly occurred at political occasions, the again seat of a automobile, and inside Rosenberg’s and Hefner’s house made them much less severe.
“Regardless that, primarily based on what little I’ve been advised, these allegations don’t contain members or workers of the Senate and didn’t happen within the State Home, I take them critically,” Rosenberg stated in an announcement.
He additionally insisted that Hefner has not used his private connection to Rosenberg to wield affect on Beacon Hill.
These could also be Rosenberg’s beliefs. However the Globe article — primarily based not solely on interviews with the 4 males but in addition with quite a few others, accounts bolstered by written exchanges — presents a robust case that Hefner might have traded on Rosenberg’s affect to aggressively serve his personal wants.
Hefner has acknowledged no wrongdoing. On Friday, Rosenberg stated his partner quickly will enter an inpatient remedy heart for alcohol dependence.
Whereas we now have no cause to doubt Rosenberg’s pledge of cooperation, his political clout may make it exhausting for the investigation to proceed. The 4 males spoke to the Globe solely reluctantly and insisted on anonymity for worry of jeopardizing their reputations and careers.
That worry — together with, for some, a want to not hurt Rosenberg and his progressive agenda — is what stored them silent regardless of feeling violated, humiliated and powerless.
“That’s the reason I’m nonetheless sick to my abdomen about this,” stated one man, who advised the Globe that Hefner had grabbed his genitals at a 2015 fundraising occasion. “Years later, once I did nothing fallacious, he (Hefner) has a means of creating me really feel like I did one thing fallacious. You may’t get away from him. His husband is the Senate president. What am I imagined to do? There’s nobody I can file an HR grievance with.”
Rosenberg, 68, and Hefner, 30, have been a pair since 2008. They met whereas Hefner had a summer time job in Rosenberg’s workplace. Rosenberg stated their relationship is “deeply dedicated” and advised the Globe he credit Hefner with making him really feel snug residing brazenly as a homosexual man.
“I might not have come out if he had not come into my life,” Rosenberg advised the Globe in 2014 as he was rising to the Senate presidency. “It was the best present anybody has given to me.”
Rosenberg’s 2014 remarks got here, nevertheless, because the Globe was elevating questions on whether or not Hefner was wielding undue affect. On the time, Rosenberg stated the reply was no. In a letter to Democratic senators, he wrote, “I’ve enforced a firewall between my non-public life and the enterprise of the Senate and can proceed to take action.”
With severe questions swirling about whether or not that firewall has been breached, we urge Rosenberg to take away himself quickly from his management position in order that the investigations might proceed with out worry or favor. At this level, that’s how he can finest serve the commonwealth to which he has devoted his skilled life.