Massachusetts House urged to adopt changes in handling of sexual misconduct claims

BOSTON (WHDH) - In the wake of explosive allegations of sexual harassment on Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts House is being urged to adopt a revamped set of procedures for handling complaints involving lawmakers and staff.

The new recommendations still need to be agreed upon by house lawmakers, but they would provide a complete overhaul to the current system.

“I want it done quickly. When I started this process, I said to folks, ‘I take this subject very seriously,’” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said.

DeLeo ordered the review last fall in the wake of the #metoo movement.

Sexual misconduct allegations against former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s husband also had rocked the building.

The overhaul calls for:

  • Establishing an equal opportunity employment officer to investigate complaints
  • Hiring another human resources director
  • Changing the location of office of human resources to ensure privacy
  • Yearly training for all house employees and legislators
  • Setting up a new complaint process to encourage reporting

The team of lawyers who came up with the new recommendations included former Attorney General Martha Coakley.

“By and large, I think that this is a better process both for victims, complaining witnesses, bystanders, as well as for members to make sure we get at the behavior we should,” Coakley said.

It also covers house interns and lobbyists, something the previous policies never did.

“It institutes a set of standards and protections for them,” House Minority Leader Brad Jones said.

Lawmakers still have to vote on the proposed policies.

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