Disgraced ex-Rep. Eric Massa's long trail of bizarre behavior includes home shared with staffers
Disgraced ex-Rep. Eric Massa insists he never sexually abused anyone, but he filled his Capitol Hill rowhouse with low-paid male staffers in an arrangement ripe for trouble.
"It's like he had people trapped," said a Hill source.
Sordid new details emerged yesterday of a pattern of behavior that went back to his 20 years as a naval officer, as ex-shipmates came forward to describe incidents of groping and perhaps worse.
After resigning, Massa called his "inappropriate" behavior a carryover from his Navy days.
At the house on E St. Southeast yesterday, which Massa had shared with five of his staffers, clothes were piled on the floor and half-a-dozen pairs of shoes mingled with dirty towels next to an open pink suitcase in the living room.
In hindsight, Democratic insiders wondered about activities that before had just seemed odd. They said Massa hired a surprisingly large percentage of young gay men, and paid them so little that staffers were forced to live in the house with him.
"It's not the gay part that's a problem, it's the abuse, if it's true," said one Hill source.
"The guy's a freak," a close friend of one embattled Massa aide told the Daily News.
Even as ethics officials apparently decided yesterday to drop their investigation of Massa because he is no longer in Congress, numerous new reports and interviews suggested there is much more to learn about the Navy vet.
Massa departed Congress on Monday after first saying he had cancer, then claiming he wanted to avoid an investigation, then saying he was forced out because he opposed health care reform, and finally saying he wasn't forced out.
He admitted in a pair of bizarre cable interviews that he "tickled" staffers, but he denied charges of repeated groping.
But new bombshells erupted yesterday, the biggest reported by The Atlantic online, which quoted past shipmates of Massa charging he used his status as a commander to subject underlings to abusive sexual advances.BY James Gordon Meek, Richard Sisk, Kenneth R. Bazinet and Michael Mcauliff In Washington and Rich Schapiro In Corning, N.Y.
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Thursday, March 11th 2010, 10:54 AM