BOSTON (AP) — The estranged husband of former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg looks forward to defending himself in court after pleading not guilty Tuesday to charges that he sexually assaulted or harassed several men, according to his lawyer.
Bryon Hefner, 30, was released on personal recognizance after making his first court appearance since being indicted by a grand jury last month.
He was ordered to stay away from the alleged victims and from the Statehouse, where Rosenberg has been a lawmaker for more than 30 years and served as the Senate leader for almost three years before stepping aside in December amid the allegations against Hefner.
Hefner answered not guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault, distributing nude photos without consent and criminal lewdness.
His lawyer, Tracy Miner, distributed a brief statement saying Hefner would defend himself in court, “where accusers cannot remain anonymous and must face cross-examination.”
“Unfortunately, (Hefner) has already been pilloried in the press for political purposes, having never had a trial,” wrote Miner, who referred to her client in the statement as “Mr. Hefner Rosenberg.”
Rosenberg, a 68-year-old Amherst Democrat, confirmed reports earlier this year that he and Hefner had separated and that his estranged husband had entered treatment for alcohol dependence.
The Senate Ethics Committee hired an independent investigator to determine if Rosenberg — who has not been accused of wrongdoing — violated any Senate rules in connection with the allegations against Hefner. The probe is ongoing. Rosenberg has said he was not aware of the allegations against his husband until they became public, and that Hefner had no influence over the affairs of the Senate.
In court Tuesday, assistant attorney general Jennifer Snook said Hefner targeted both young and older men and that the alleged assaults occurred “in both public and private settings.”
One man alleged Hefner grabbed his genitals without permission on three separate occasions in 2015 and 2016, Snook said, including one time in a car on the way to a political event.
Another man claimed Hefner took nude pictures of him in a hotel room and distributed those pictures to others, without consent in either instance, according to the prosecutor.
In announcing the indictments, Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said the investigation had “revealed a disturbing pattern of conduct that was not only inappropriate but criminal.”
Conley, who investigated the case along with state Attorney General Maura Healey, said the fact that many of the parties in the case work in politics and government made it especially difficult for alleged victims to come forward.
A tentative March 2019 trial date was set for Hefner.