BOSTON (CBS) — Attorneys for Bryon Hefner, who has been accused of sexual assault, and former State Senate President and Hefner’s estranged husband Stan Rosenberg argue that the man suing both of them should not be able to do so without revealing his identity.
An unnamed former State House aide who is now in his 20s alleges Hefner groped him on several occasions and Rosenberg knew Hefter was a “risk to others” in his civil suit against them last month.
Lawyers for the former aide, who is identified as John Doe, fought to keep his identity private. “We are seeking [to] keep the identity of this young person, a sexual abuse victim, from being publicized,” said Attorney William Gordon at a hearing for the case on Wednesday.
Mitchell Garabedian, another lawyer for John Doe, said his client is dealing with depression and anxiety, and argued revealing his identity could cause immediate and irreparable harm.
“It’s a very delicate path for a victim to come forward emotionally because they feel such pain, such humiliation,” Garabedian added.
Attorneys for Hefner and Rosenberg said John Doe should face the same public scrutiny they do, and that he does not meet the threshold of exceptional circumstances to protect his name.
“The possibility of psychological harm, those concerns again based on the plaintiff’s self-report are speculative and conclusory,” said Rosenberg’s attorney, Michael Pineault.
The judge has not made a decision yet.
Garabedian said outside court that his client “is sending a message that he’s going to be proud and strong and all victims of sexual abuse should be proud and strong and step forward.”
In April, Hefner was arraigned on 10 criminal charges of sexual assault, distributing nude photos without consent and criminal lewdness. He pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.
These criminal charges allege Hefner sexually assaulted one victim on three separate occasions in the Boston area, including once in June 2015 in a residential building and twice in April 2016, once in a vehicle and once in a restaurant. He allegedly sexually assaulted another victim in 2014 and exposed his genitals to that victim in June 2016. They also allege Hefner sexually assaulted a third victim in August 2016.
Additionally, prosecutors allege that Hefner obtained nude and partially-nude photos of another victim without the victim’s knowledge and sent or showed those photos to four other people without the victim’s consent.
All the while, an investigation was conducted by the Senate Ethics Committee into whether Rosenberg violated any Senate rules. While the committee concluded the Senator did not violate any specific rules, it showed a lack of judgment. The report also says his promise of a firewall between Hefner and Senate business was “ineffective”.
Rosenberg has since stepped down.