Lawsuit Says Former Senate President Stan Rosenberg Knew Husband Was A Risk

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A civil lawsuit is alleging former Senate President Stan Rosenberg knew his estranged husband Bryon Hefner posed a risk to individuals at the Massachusetts Statehouse and Rosenberg and Hefner had an agreement or understanding allowing Hefner access to those individuals.

The lawsuit, which names both men, was filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Friday on behalf of an unnamed plaintiff who said Hefner grabbed his genitals without consent on more than one occasion.

The suit alleges the plaintiff suffered ongoing emotional distress and physical harm, including "depression, anxiety, muscle tension, gastrointestinal distress and impaired sleep."

Attempts to reach Rosenberg, a Democrat who resigned from the Legislature in May, were unsuccessful on Tuesday. Hefner's lawyer didn't immediately return a request for comment.

In one case, the plaintiff said that during a ride in Rosenberg's car in April 2016, Hefner grabbed his genitals over his clothes as Rosenberg rode in the front passenger seat and the two rode in the back seat.

At some point the plaintiff said he told Hefner to "screw off" at which point Rosenberg said "knock it off back there," or words to that effect.

The plaintiff also said that during a dinner that same month in a Boston restaurant with Rosenberg and members of the Massachusetts Senate, Hefner again grabbed his genitals under the table over his clothes. The plaintiff said he pushed Hefner's hands away.

Hefner also boasted of his influence with Rosenberg, the lawsuit alleged.

Rosenberg provided excuses for Hefner's conduct, according to the lawsuit, pointing to his "mental health issues or problems with alcohol."

Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney representing the unnamed plaintiff, said he was hoping for a "just and fair verdict." Garabedian is best known for representing hundreds of clergy sexual abuse victims.

The lawsuit specifically accuses Hefner of battery and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit also accuses Rosenberg of the intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy, saying he knew of the risk posed to others by Hefner.

"Defendant Rosenberg and Defendant Hefner made an agreement or had a common design or understanding to give Defendant Hefner access to individuals who worked, communicated with or lobbied at the Massachusetts Legislature or at the Massachusetts State House including the Plaintiff, with whom Defendant Hefner could engage in unwanted sexual touching," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit doesn't specify potential damages. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to maintain the anonymity of the plaintiff.

The complaint mirrors some of the allegations made by prosecutors in the indictment that charged Hefner with 10 counts of sexual assault, distributing nude photos without consent and criminal lewdness.

The lawsuit also indicates that one of Hefner's alleged victims, though not the person who is the plaintiff in the case, was a member of the state Legislature.

According to the lawsuit, Hefner and Rosenberg attended a December 2013 conference with other members of the Legislature. One of the elected officials said after drinking alcohol he woke up naked in his hotel room bed with no memory of how he got there, and later learned that Hefner had naked photos of him that he showed to several other people, the lawsuit states.

Hefner pleaded not guilty at his April arraignment, His attorney, Tracy Miner, said in a statement at the time that he would defend himself in court.

In December, shortly after The Boston Globe first reported on allegations of sexual misconduct against Hefner, Rosenberg read a statement in which he described himself as "shocked and devastated" to learn of the allegations, and asserted Hefner had no influence over his decisions in the Senate.