November 30, 2017—Today, the Boston Globe reported that four men have said that Bryon Hefner, the husband of Senate President Stan Rosenberg, has sexually assaulted them. Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Gina Scaramella issued the following statement in response:
“Coming on the heels of so many other reports of sexual harassment and violence in the past four days alone, never mind the past six weeks, these stories of the abuse of power are deeply disturbing.
“But we should not necessarily be surprised. These reports indicate that many professional boundaries may have been crossed, such as the Senate president husband’s involvement in the Senate president’s work and his insinuations that he could deliver much-needed community resources for those who curried favor with him. While neither action on its own involved sexual harassment, when significant boundary violations occur, it is no surprise to learn that sexual harassment may have been employed as a tool for exploitation as well.
“In light of these reports and past reports about Beacon Hill’s apparent tolerance for sexual harassment and abuse, it is clear that the state Senate must hire an outside party, experienced in sexual abuse investigations, to investigate and make recommendations for reform. These recommendations must include development of a sexual harassment prevention policy.
“Good policies outline internal and external options for reporting harassment. Explanations about the internal option must disclose limits to confidentiality, such as whether a report about sexual harassment automatically triggers a notification to other people at the State House. The external reporting option should direct employees to a rape crisis center or victims’ advocacy organization where they can receive confidential care and counsel. The policy should send the message that the State House cares for the safety of its employees as well as the lobbyists, advocates, and others who work there.
“The only way to create a safe workplace on Beacon Hill is to provide clarity to issues that are now murky: With no human resources department, who should be alerted when a sexual assault takes place, and what is that person’s responsibility? What are the consequences for committing acts of sexual harassment or abuse? And what are the consequences for bystanders who are complicit in facilitating the acts of an abuser?
“An outside entity, with complete independence from the state Senate, must do this work. Their recommendations, whatever they may be, must then be followed. When it comes to dealing with sexual violence, lip service is not enough, nor is workplace training without culture change. Responses to sexual assault and harassment, as well as prevention measures, must be taken seriously. This is Massachusetts. We have led the way in so many areas. Let’s not let fear or politics keep us from doing so again.”