Are Questions Of Confidentiality In Rosenberg Probe Keeping Potential Beacon Hill Victims Silent?

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BOSTON — A recent report indicates that potential victims poised to speak out regarding their experiences with the husband of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) are now thinking twice about coming forward, thanks to concerns about confidentiality.

Mike Deehan of WGBH has reported that attorneys from the international law firm Hogan Lovells — hired by the Senate Ethics Committee to lead the investigation — have been directed by the committee to supply the panel with the identities of alleged victims and first acquire permission from committee members ahead of any potential issuing of subpoenas.

When the Senate voted to hire an outside counsel to investigate sexual assault and harassment allegations against then-Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s husband, part of the motivation was to give victims and witnesses the comfort of coming forward with an assurance of confidentiality.

The arrangement, according to WGBH, would strip whistleblowers of any confidentiality.

The system set to be put in place also stands as a stark contrast to the campus sexual harassment bill that senators unanimously passed this past fall under Rosenberg’s leadership. The bill calls for banning any resemblance of due process during campus sexual assault tribunals.  

As for the WGBH report, Senate staffers say that a briefing held by Senate counsel left them unclear as to whether they would be able to remain confidential should they elect to offer sworn testimony.

“There is some concern among my peers that some people might be discouraged to come forward,” an unnamed Senate staffer told Deehan.

“Without subpoena power to the investigators, they have to go back to the Ethics Committee, who is run by senators, and who will now see who is speaking to the investigators,” another staffer with knowledge of a Senate staff meeting told Deehan.

Rosenberg stepped down from his post as president last month after the allegations surrounding his since-estranged husband, Bryon Hefner, first surfaced in a Boston Globe column. Investigators are looking to determine whether Hefner’s alleged pattern of using his relationship with Rosenberg to manipulate those with working ties to Beacon Hill as part of a behavioural trend of sexual misconduct affected state legislative matters.