Senate Harassment Reports Involved Intern, Visitor, Rosenberg Says

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By Katie Lannan

BOSTON — Neither of the two sexual harassment reports Senate officials have fielded in the last three years involve allegations against lawmakers, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said Tuesday.

Rosenberg said last month that he had dealt with two complaints of sexual harassment since he began leading the chamber in 2015, and on Tuesday offered more details about the situations he said were “resolved to the satisfaction of the reporter.”

In one case, an intern was accused of misconduct and no longer works in the building, Rosenberg said. He declined to say if the intern was asked to leave.

“Options were put on the table,” he said. “I’m not supposed to discuss the details, so all I can tell you is options were put on the table and it was resolved to the satisfaction of the reporter.”

The other case involved allegations by a State House staffer against “a visitor to the building,” Rosenberg said.

Six women senators, in an effort spearheaded by Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, plan to use December and January to see if there are ways to improve the Senate’s policies around sexual harassment, Rosenberg said. He said the group has already pegged the training of interns as a “deficiency.”

“We identified that as a weakness. We’ll fix it,” Rosenberg said. “If the committee comes back with any additional suggestions, we will definitely consider them seriously.”

The issue of sexual harassment on Beacon Hill was placed in the spotlight after a Boston Globe column in October featured anonymous accounts from a dozen women detailing instances of harassment and misconduct by men, including current and former elected officials.

After the column was published, the House adopted an order requiring its legal counsel, James Kennedy, to conduct a comprehensive review of the branch’s sexual harassment policies and report back with recommendations by March 2018. Kennedy has since brought on outside employment law experts Paul Holtzman and Jill Brenner Meixel of Krokidas & Bluestein, and former Attorney General Martha Coakley and Jennifer Kirby of Foley Hoag to work on the review.

Rosenberg said he asked the Senate’s personnel department and legal counsel for a review of sexual harassment policies when he was elected president.

“They brought outside counsel in, they reviewed them and said that the policies were solid, they were still state of the art, the procedures and processes and how we conduct investigations was all exactly as it should be, and is long as we implemented them consistently, it would work fine, and it has,” he said.

Rosenberg said he “quietly” called for the review. “This was not something you put in the newspaper. It was my job, I’m manager in chief,” he said.

Rosenberg credited his predecessor, Senate President Therese Murray, with setting in motion a “zero-tolerance policy” and helping to create an environment where women would feel safe speaking up. Murray was the first woman to lead either branch of the Legislature.

Rosenberg said women in the Senate may also feel comfortable stepping forward because the three people who would receive reports of harassment — his chief of staff, Senate counsel and the human resources director — are all women.