CONCORD — Bryon Hefner, who’s already facing charges of sexually assaulting multiple men, made hundreds of harassing phone calls to a Lincoln treatment facility over several weeks when he was a patient there, in some instances purporting to be calling from an adult video store and, in another, “requesting sexual favors,” according to police.
Hefner, 31, appeared Monday in Concord District Court, where he pleaded guilty to four counts of placing “annoying” telephone calls and admitted that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict him on two counts of criminal harassment — all misdemeanors.
He was sentenced to one year of probation on the first four charges, and Judge Elizabeth Cremens ruled that the other charges would be continued without a finding for a year, meaning they will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble during that time.
Hefner, the husband of former state Senate president Stanley C. Rosenberg, placed the calls through various websites that allow users to make calls using a fake number, according to Lincoln police.
Staff at McLean Hospital’s Lincoln Residence reported receiving some 200 “prank” calls over three weeks between the end of December 2017 and early January 2018, including more than 100 on a single day. The onslaught left staff feeling unsafe and drove one worker to tears, police said.
In one case, the caller said, “I’m watching you.” Another, according to a police report, purported to be from an adult video store, telling the staffer an order has been made in her name. One worker said she was watching TV with Hefner at the facility when she received a call to a number listed to him but with a recorded voice.
The recording said “something to the effect, ‘I found your number in the men’s room and I’m looking to meet up for sex,’ ” according to police.
Hefner denied to the worker that he made the call and said his phone was in a different room, according to the report.
But police and staff said the calls were part of a pattern of harassment that started soon after Hefner arrived and continued through Jan. 8 — four days before he left the facility.
“One night the calls were constant,” the staff member told police. “All three phones lines would be ringing at the same time.”
Another staff member said as the phone calls flooded the facility, Hefner “would make it a point to say” it wasn’t him.
The staffer said “she did not feel safe while this was going on,” police wrote. “She said that there were a couple of nights that she drove home crying.”
Seth Orkand, Hefner’s attorney, said Hefner was receiving treatment for both mental health and substance abuse issues at the time. With media attention swirling around him, the calls, Orkand said, were Hefner’s attempt at “controlling the environment around him.”
“All I can say, your honor, is given the circumstances, he felt his life was spiraling out of control,” Orkand told the court. He later declined to comment.
Laura Miller, a prosecutor with the Middlesex district attorney’s office, said the calls totaled in the hundreds, all while Hefner had a “first-hand” account to their effects on the staff.
One call was in a female’s voice yelling, “You got me pregnant. How dare you leave me,” according to police. Another, in a recording that sounded like a young boy, the caller yelled, “‘please make it stop’ over and over again,” police wrote.
“He knew what he was doing to them. He could see the fear,” Miller said of Hefner. “And he continued to do it day after day after day . . . relishing in the distress he was causing.”
Lincoln police said they identified more than a dozen different IP addresses through four different websites that were used to make the calls. Each time, police said, the same IP addresses were used to log into two of Hefner’s e-mail accounts during the same time period.
Hefner registered an account on one of the prank call sites with the user name “blue-eyed-badger1555,” police said. That account alone called McLean phone numbers 41 times over six days in late December, police said — in addition to placing “well over” 100 prank calls to other people who weren’t directly part of their investigation.
Hefner had already been engulfed in a legal storm long before Monday.
He was indicted earlier this year on sexual assault charges in Suffolk Superior Court, and both he and Rosenberg have also been sued by one of his accusers in civil court.
His decision to plead guilty, however, is not expected to impact his bail conditions in his Suffolk County criminal case because the infractions in Lincoln occurred before he was charged there. But if he is convicted in the sexual assault case, a judge could consider his new criminal record in sentencing.
Last fall, after The Boston Globe detailed allegations from four men of sexual assault against Hefner, Rosenberg said Hefner was “seeking professional help for alcohol dependence,” including “being admitted to an in-patient treatment center.”
The McLean Hospital website lists its Lincoln Residence as a “supportive and therapeutic setting for adults 18 and over who would benefit from additional support while transitioning to independent living.”
It says the Residence accommodates up to eight people at a rate of $1,000 per day “excluding outpatient treatment and ancillary health services.”
A McLean spokeswoman declined to comment. Hefner later moved to a treatment facility out of state, according to court documents.
Hefner pleaded not guilty in April to five counts of sexual assault, four counts of distributing nude images without consent, and one count of criminal lewdness. Prosecutors say he groped two men against their will, kissed another “aggressively on the lips without his consent,” and boastfully showed nude photos of a fourth man who said he had never agreed to have the pictures taken.
After the allegations first surfaced, Rosenberg — then Senate president and consequently one of the state’s most powerful officials — stepped down from his leadership post as a Senate committee investigated his conduct. He later resigned his seat after the Ethics Committee released a scathing report, citing him for “failures” in leadership.