[Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS][/caption]There is a new circus under the Beacon Hill big top and yes, these are your monkeys.  This time the main attraction is the husband of openly gay Senate President Stanley Rosenberg who has been accused of sexual misconduct involving four men.

The Boston Globe was first with the stunning news yesterday that Bryon Hefner had been accused of groping and sexually harassing the men including a State House aide, a lobbyist, a public policy advocate, and a man who worked on Beacon Hill who claims Hefner put his hand up his shorts during a fundraiser. The incidents, independent of each other are alleged to have occurred between 2015 and 2016.

The 68 year-old Rosenberg married the 30 year-old Hefner in a civil ceremony last September. At the time, there was concern about remarks made by Hefner that he might exert influence with Rosenberg on Senate business prompting Rosenberg to establish a "firewall" between his personal and professional lives.

Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler of Worcester says an independent investigation of the allegations will be conducted;

"These charges are very serious and very disturbing, and I am shocked and saddened. In order to ensure a completely impartial process, and because of these unique circumstances which involve the Office of the Senate President, we will be going to the unprecedented step of bringing in an independent special investigator."

Chandler says Rosenberg will not be involved in the investigation;

"I appreciate that President Rosenberg has recused himself from playing any role in this investigation. While the Senate President will be recused in this matter, he will remain in the Office of the Senate President and retain his responsibilities for all other matters before the Senate. I look forward to working with the Minority Leader in the true spirit of bipartisanship to resolve this issue in a transparent and expeditious manner."

Rosenberg issued a statement upon learning of the allegations;

"This is the first I have heard about these claims. Even though, based on what little I have been told, these allegations do not involve members or employees of the Senate and did not occur in the State House, I take them seriously. To the best of my recollection I was not approached by anyone with complaints during or after the alleged incidents made in this article or I would have tried to intervene."

For his part, Hefner says he was "shocked" by the allegations. He issued a statement to the Globe through an unnamed attorney;

"To my knowledge, no one has complained to me or any political or governmental authority about these allegations which are now surfacing years afterward. As one can imagine, it is incredibly difficult to respond to allegations by unnamed and unidentified individuals that involve an extended period of time, particularly in the current environment."

While most on Beacon Hill are carefully measuring their response to this mess Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Kingston is calling for Rosenberg's immediate resignation.  Kingston's reaction may in part be seeped in politics but, it certainly should be considered given today's sexually charged environment.

President Rosenberg has already declared his intention to seek another term next year.  Whether Rosenberg can lead effectively while his husband is being investigated is something that he should consider very carefully over the weekend.

The Massachusetts State House has witnessed scandal after scandal in recent years. The last three House Speakers have resigned under a cloud of suspicion. One actually went to jail. A new scandal albeit indirectly linked to the Senate President does little to instill confidence in the citizenry of the Commonwealth.

Perhaps Mr. Rosenberg's resignation would be the best course of action at this time.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Source: The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The State House News Service