Plaintiff’s ID in suit against Hefner, Rosenberg to remain secret

  • Bryon Hefner, estranged husband of former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg, departs after arraignment on sexual assault and other charges at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. ap file photo

For the Recorder
Published: 8/16/2018 10:55:31 PM

BOSTON — The identity of the man suing former Senate president Stanley Rosenberg and his estranged husband Bryon Hefner over sexual assault allegations will remain secret until the start of a trial slated for late next year, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The June 15 civil lawsuit alleges that Rosenberg, 68, “knew or was aware” that Hefner, 31, posed a risk to individuals in the Massachusetts State House and that Rosenberg and Hefner had an agreement or understanding allowing Hefner access to those individuals, “with whom defendant Hefner could engage in unwanted sexual touching.”

The lawsuit alleges that Hefner grabbed the unnamed plaintiff’s genitals without consent on three occasions in 2015 and 2016 and that the plaintiff suffers from ongoing emotional and physical distress from the incidents, including “depression, anxiety, muscle tension, gastrointestinal distress and impaired sleep.”

Rosenberg declined to comment Thursday on the judge’s decision. Attorneys for Hefner and Rosenberg did not return requests for comment.

The lawsuit also alleges that Hefner “used his apparent influence” with Rosenberg to keep the plaintiff from “reporting or complaining of the unconsented sexual touching.”

The plaintiff was a legislative aide at the Massachusetts State House when the alleged incidents occurred.

In July, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert Tochka heard arguments from Hefner and Rosenberg’s attorneys, as well as the attorneys representing the plaintiff, identified as “John Doe,” to decide whether to keep his identity secret.

William Gordon and Mitchell Garabedian, the two lawyers for the plaintiff, argued that revealing his identity would victimize him again, reopen wounds and cause others to treat him differently. Rosenberg and Hefner’s lawyers argued that revealing the plaintiff’s identity would “level the playing field.”

Tochka’s Wednesday ruling referenced a psychiatric report submitted with the lawsuit, which stated that revealing the plaintiff’s name could increase his post-traumatic stress disorder and lead to “substantial, immediate and irreparable psychological harm and trauma if his name were revealed to the public.”

Tochka ruled that “the particular circumstances of this case,” which in his decision include the highly public nature of Rosenberg and Hefner and the risk that publicly identifying the plaintiff would re-victimize him, “establish good cause for impoundment until the first day of the trial.”

The decision orders the plaintiff’s name and any information that may be reasonably used to identify him to be redacted.

Rosenberg’s attorneys have submitted motions to dismiss the two charges against Rosenberg in the lawsuit.

Garabedian said that the judge’s decision was a positive step in the case and that the decision will “send a message to other victims of sexual assault to empower them to file civil suits.”

He said that both criminal and civil lawsuits are important for victims to attain “a degree of closure.”

“My client should be proud for having come forward to file a civil lawsuit,” Garabedian said. “It takes an enormous amount of courage and strength to come forward.”

Garabedian said that even in a high-profile case such as this one, which involves political players, he is not concerned that political motivations have or will influence the case.

Rosenberg resigned from the Legislature in May after a four-month-long ethics investigation into whether he broke any Senate rules found that he had failed to protect the Senate from Hefner’s “disruptive, volatile and abusive” behavior.

Hefner pleaded not guilty to felony charges of sexual assault, criminal lewdness, and distributing nude photographs without consent in April.




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