Last week came news that Massa, a 20-year Navy veteran elected to the House in 2008, was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly groping three young male staffers. Massa sort of denied it, while claiming that the House Democratic leadership had set him up. All this made the earlier episode worth revisiting. Dickert, who had since reached a settlement with Massa, declined to comment when I reached him. But in conversations yesterday and today with some of Massa’s Navy shipmates, it became clear that the behavior toward his subordinates that got Massa into trouble in Congress is part of pattern that dates to his time in the Navy.
According to Peter Clarke, a Navy shipmate, Massa was notorious for making unwanted advances toward subordinates. He tells the story of his friend Stuart Borsch, with whom Massa shared a hotel room while on leave during the first Gulf War. “Stuart’s at the edge of the bed,” Clarke says Borsch told him at the time, “and [Massa] starts massaging him. Massa said, ‘You’ll have to get one of my special massages.’ He called them ‘Massa Massages.'” Ron Moss, a Navy shipmate and Borsch’s roommate, confirmed that Borsch told him this story at the time.