Report: Massa faces probe for allegedly groping male staffers

Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) is under investigation for allegedly groping male staffers, several sources told The Washington Post on Tuesday.

Massa, who tendered his resignation Monday, had said that the investigation centered around his use of poor language around his staff. He detailed the incident that he said sparked the complaint, saying he used a crude expression in front of a table of staffers at a wedding party.

New reports, however, appear to go against what Massa has said publicly about the probe. The Post reported:

The allegations surrounding the New York Democrat date back at least a year, and involve "a pattern of behavior and physical harassment," according to one source. The new claims of alleged groping contradict statements by Massa, who resigned his office on Monday after it became public that he was the subject of a House ethics committee investigation for possible harassment.

While the ex-congressman apologized for using what he called "salty language," Massa blamed Democratic leaders in Congress and the White House for forcing the probe to push him out of office because he opposed healthcare reform legislation. 

Sources told the Post that Massa's former Deputy Chief of Staff Ron Hikel informed the House ethics committee of the complaints three weeks ago and sought the counsel of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Hoyer's office said last week it referred Massa's staff to report the complaints to the ethics committee.

The majority leader called Massa's allegations "absurd" and "absolutely untrue" at his weekly press briefing Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs similarly rebuffed Massa's claims. In an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," Gibbs said, "We’re focused not on crazy allegations but instead on making this system work for the American people rather than work for insurance companies."