Globe challenges Sargent to show evidence

Paper’s lawyers say they can’t complete investigation without ex-staffer’s help

LAWYERS FOR THE Boston Globe said they are trying to determine whether allegations against editor Brian McGrory of sending inappropriate and sexually suggestive text messages are true, but cannot complete their investigation without help from his accuser, former Boston.com editor Hilary Sargent.

“The Globe has done all the investigation it can without her, both internally and through an outside investigator; it has interviewed McGrory multiple times, and reviewed every available document, email, and text message,” Globe attorney Mark W. Batten wrote in a brief filed Wednesday in the suit. “For now, at least one critical step remains: hearing from the complainant herself.”

The filing in Suffolk Superior Court came in response to a reply from Sargent seeking to dismiss the request for an injunction to compel her to cooperate. A hearing on the Globe’s request for an injunction will be held Thursday afternoon before Judge Christine Roach.

McGrory’s attorney, Martin Murphy, said in an emailed statement that his client had given “the Globe full access to his phone, computers, texts, and email.” He added: “Those communications confirm exactly what he has said from the start. He has never sexually harassed anyone, Ms. Sargent included. And he has never acted disrespectfully to Ms. Sargent, whom he once dated when she did not work at the Globe.”

Sargent on May 20 posted on Twitter a screengrab of a text exchange she claimed to have had with McGrory about writing. In the middle of texting back and forth, Sargent claimed McGrory asked her: “What do you generally wear when you write?” Sargent responded by saying: “Seriously?”

The timing of the exchange is in doubt. McGrory says he doesn’t remember the exchange and Sargent said this week in a court filing that she didn’t recall when it occurred, but her attorney indicated it was probably after she stopped working at Boston.com.

The Globe had charged in its complaint that Sargent’s tweets last month had caused the paper “harm” because of the widespread coverage. Sargent’s attorney, Jack Siegal, submitted a brief on Tuesday that disputed that, saying it was the Globe’s own coverage of the suit that triggered a “media circus.”

The Globe’s latest reply pushed back, with the paper attaching to its filing stories from 20 news outlets locally and around the country reporting on Sargent’s charges and the suit.

The brief also cited Sargent’s claim that the text was a screenshot and she no longer has the original. Siegal, who declined comment on the Globe’s latest filing, said in his brief that retrieving it was a cumbersome and expensive undertaking that his client did not have the resources to carry out. Batten wrote that was the first the paper has heard of such a barrier and while he stopped short of saying the Globe would pay for it, he made clear there is no expectation that Sargent would bear the cost of retrieving any messages.

“The Globe has not insisted that Sargent undertake any expensive or difficult measures to retrieve messages, because she did not tell the Globe about these difficulties, and there is no request now that she shoulder the expense of retaining a vendor,” Batten wrote.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

Batten also dismissed Sargent’s claim that the Globe’s suit was an effort to intimidate her and keep her from talking. Batten said that is not the intent at all.

“Again: the Globe wants to hear the details of her allegations, not to silence her,” he wrote.