AP NEWS

McMurtry’s Reputation is Damaged. What About His Bogus Accusers?

March 19, 2019

By Peter Lucas

It was a scene out of the Godfather.

It was like when Michael Corleone embraced his brother Fredo, who had secretly set him up to be killed, and says, “I know it was you, Fredo; you broke my heart.”

Then Michael has Fredo killed.

That is how one participant described the scene of the freshman legislator who hugged state Rep. Paul McMurtry, 53, after the Dedham legislator had been cleared of bogus sexual harassment charges made in a largely fabricated Boston Globe story.

The McMurtry exoneration came at a House Democrat Caucus Wednesday when House Speaker Robert DeLeo released the results of an eight-week investigation into the incident that had roiled the Legislature.

Fellow legislators cheered and congratulated the much-maligned McMurtry, who was also reappointed to a committee chairmanship that had been held in abeyance.

That legislator who hugged him was one of four who reported the alleged incident to DeLeo. He, like the others, did not witness it and refused to cooperate with the investigation that eventually cleared McMurtry.

Neither his name, nor the name of the alleged victim or the other three “witnesses,” were made public in the report.

That legislator is only described as “Member Three,” even though most people at the State House know who he is. It is expected, one way or another, that all the names of legislators involved in the shabby set-up, including one female senator, will eventually come out.

But it is a shame their names were not been made public in the investigative report. What they did to anonymously frame and smear a fellow legislator could happen to anyone.

It is also a shame because the accusers, all progressives, sought to blacken McMurtry’s name to embarrass DeLeo, a speaker whom they do not like, by using the highly charged issue of sexual harassment.

Only it blew up in their faces. The only legislator who has been punished to date, ironically, has been McMurtry. He has had his reputation damaged, while the accusers have all been granted anonymity by both the paper and by the investigative report.

The nasty alleged harassment incident was originally promoted by several freshman progressives in an ugly Globe story that ran Jan. 16 on page one.

The story, based on anonymous legislative sources, alleged that McMurtry, a member of DeLeo’s leadership team, had grabbed the backside of a female legislator at a UMass Amherst orientation cocktail party for freshman legislators in December.

While no official complaint was filed by the alleged victim -- a freshman legislator from outside Greater Boston -- or anyone else, DeLeo initiated an investigation after he received reports that three representatives and one senator had knowledge of the alleged incident.

The investigation was conducted by House Counsel James Kennedy, a bi-partisan seven-member Special Committee on Professional Conduct and an investigator from the Equal Employment Office. The probe included reluctant witnesses and the viewing of a security video of the cocktail party.

It was an uphill effort all the way. The alleged victim refused testify despite repeated efforts to get her to do so.

Two representatives, “Member One “and “Member Two,” also initially refused to testify and had to be persuaded to do so. Neither witnessed the alleged incident.

“Member Three,” who made an initial report to the speaker about the incident, “refused to participate in an interview with the EEO officer,” the report said. Instead, “Member Three” read a prepared statement.

The report said everyone interviewed denied witnessing the alleged incident. The video showed that the alleged victim did not demonstrate any concern that something was amiss.

Of course, in a group setting, incidental contact could have taken place, the report allowed, but that is not what the accusers told the Globe.

The paper said that during the taking of a photo, two legislators said that the alleged victim told them that McMurtry had “just grabbed her backside.”

“A third person, a state representative, said she witnessed McMurtry grab the woman’s behind. He walked up behind her and grabbed it. She was upset,” the Globe reported.

No one said anything like that before the investigating committee.

It was phony story concocted by several legislators with an agenda. It caused havoc and confusion within the House, and damaged McMurtry’s reputation. The names of the accusers should be made public.

As for McMurtry and the hug, he has learned to keep his friends close and his enemies closer.

Email comments to: luke1825@aol.com