Ex-Senate president’s husband could someday get state pension
Bryon Hefner, the husband of former Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and an alleged sexual predator, could receive tens of thousands of dollars in annual state pension benefits, according to paperwork Rosenberg filed with state retirement officials.
Rosenberg, who resigned from the Senate last month amid heavy pressure on Beacon Hill, filed an application on Wednesday with the State Retirement Board that designates Hefner as the beneficiary for his pension in case of his death, according to a copy obtained by the Globe on Monday through a public records request.
Under state law, prospective retirees can apply for a pension under what’s known as a joint survivor allowance, which pays a reduced monthly pension check to a designee — such as a spouse, child, or immediate family member — upon the former state employee’s death.
The name of Hefner, who is nearly 40 years younger than Rosenberg, is redacted in the former senator’s three-page retirement application, but his beneficiary’s relationship is listed as “spouse.”
Reached via text message on Monday, Rosenberg, 68, declined to comment. Hefner did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Before he resigned, Rosenberg said that he and Hefner had separated.
The State Retirement Board has yet to officially determine what Rosenberg or Hefner would receive in annual benefits. But based on his nearly 38½ years of public service at the State House and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as his three years of highest pay, Rosenberg stands to receive roughly $84,420 a year, according to a Globe analysis using the state’s online retirement calculator.
Upon Rosenberg’s death, Hefner, 31, could receive about $58,260 annually. The board has 90 days to process the application. Rosenberg submitted it by mail last week.
Rosenberg resigned under immense pressure from his colleagues and top Massachusetts elected officials of both parties.
They called for him to step down after a Senate Committee on Ethics investigation found he knew or should have known that Hefner racially and sexually harassed Senate employees, and that Rosenberg failed to address those issues adequately.
The Senate investigation was prompted by a Boston Globe story in November that detailed allegations by four men who said Hefner had sexually assaulted and harassed them and bragged he could influence Senate business.
In April in Suffolk Superior Court, Hefner pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault, four counts of distributing nude images without consent, and one count of criminal lewdness.
Prosecutors allege Hefner engaged in a pattern of assault and misconduct over multiple years. They detailed the alleged acts in vivid terms — saying Hefner groped two men against their will, kissed another “aggressively on the lips without his consent,” and boastfully showed nude photos of yet another man who said he had never agreed to have the pictures taken.
A trial is tentatively scheduled for 2019.
State retirement officials can deny a retiree’s pension if he or she is convicted of a crime directly tied to official duties. But state statute doesn’t preclude a beneficiary from receiving the pension even if the beneficiary has been convicted.
After Hefner was arraigned in April, lawyer Tracy Miner released a statement saying:
“Mr. Hefner Rosenberg has pled not guilty to the charges and looks forward to defending himself in a court of law where accusers cannot remain anonymous and must face cross-examination. Unfortunately, he has already been pilloried in the press for political purposes, having never had a trial.”
Rosenberg has said that having Hefner in his life helped him become the person he is today, that Hefner supported him as he beat back cancer and gave him strength to disclose he is gay.
“It was very difficult getting to this point in my life, frankly, to actually have relationships, and he actually brought me to the dance, if you will,’’ Rosenberg said in 2014. “I would not have come out if he had not come into my life. It was the greatest gift anyone has given to me.”
Both former foster children, the two became romantically involved in 2008 and married eight years later.