Statement on news of Bryon Hefner's alleged sexual harassment and assault

by schangdiaz

picture

Sexual assault and sexual harassment must not be tolerated under any circumstances. I am distressed and deeply saddened by these allegations, and my heart breaks for the people who have faced these violations. And to feel, when contemplating whether to report an assault, trapped between protecting yourself and protecting the community for whom you’re advocating or the political change you’re seeking, is another violation.

I fully support an independent investigation. A Senate investigation of its own members and systems is an important component of an appropriate and rigorous response. The Senate should ask itself some hard questions.

However, I believe it’s important to recognize the limits of any Senate investigation. The Senate has no actual jurisdiction over Mr. Hefner. We also need to be humble and cautious in our assumptions about how impartial we can be, even when informed by an independent investigator. In my experience, I have found Stan Rosenberg to be a principled and deeply compassionate human being, who defends the interests of victims across the board. And as an institutional leader, I have seen him put enormous initiative into building a culture of transparency, professionalism, and respect in the Senate. I know these things to be true – and that, perhaps, also makes me partial.

The Senate’s investigation is deeply necessary, but it should not be the entirety of the government’s response to these allegations.