Globe drops suit vs. Sargent
Ex-staffer says she’ll give paper info on workplace misconduct
THE BOSTON GLOBE dropped its suit against a former Boston.com editor and reporter to compel her to turn over information about her allegations of sexually suggestive texts from editor Brian McGrory.
Lawyers for the Globe filed a “Notice of Voluntary Dismissal” Monday morning in Suffolk Superior Court after both sides submitted a joint statement Friday that indicated the court action has ended. A spokeswoman for the Globe said the suit served its purpose.
“The action’s purpose was to ascertain the truth about a serious allegation Ms. Sargent publicly leveled on social media regarding an inappropriate text exchange between her and Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory,” spokeswoman Jane Bowman said in a written statement. “Faced with Ms. Sargent’s refusal to provide the date of the exchange, the Globe brought legal action to expeditiously learn all relevant information from Ms. Sargent. That legal action succeeded in achieving its purpose: Ms. Sargent has finally provided the information the Globe has requested from the start.”
Sargent, in a statement provided by her lawyer that she also released on Twitter, said if the Globe had taken her up on her offer to talk with them months ago about what she says is a long and pervasive history of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior at the paper, it never would have reached this point.
Sargent, a former intern at the Globe 20 years ago who returned in 2014 as an editor at Boston.com, added she “look[s] forward” to talking with Globe officials about her experiences and knowledge of the workplace atmosphere, which she says goes back decades.
The issue came to a head on May 20 when Sargent – after months of dogging the Globe on social media over their coverage of sexual harassment stories without, she charged, a searing look inward – posted a tweet of a conversation with someone who asked, “What do you generally wear when you write?” apparently in the midst of a discussion about story writing. She responded, “Seriously?”
If you’ve ever been sent a sext-type text from someone who was powerful enough that you felt you couldn’t do anything (other than panic/shake your head/cry), you’re not alone. The more we tweet these, the less they’ll send them. #MeToo pic.twitter.com/hoe8lrSjOH
— (@lilsarg) May 21, 2018
Though she did not initially identify the other person, she implied he was a work superior. The next day, she identified the sender as McGrory, who said he could not recall the exchange but denied ever sexually harassing Sargent or any other women.
McGrory, in a memo to Globe staff, revealed the two had a dating relationship “many years ago” but not when they worked together. Sargent, in a court filing, said the relationship was “on and off” for about five years, starting in 1999, apparently shortly after her stint as a student intern ended.
The Globe filed suit within several days, saying officials reached out to her but she declined to cooperate, forcing their hand. The paper said she was in violation of her separation agreement, which states she must cooperate with investigations regarding issues during her employment. Sargent says she had tried to speak with people at the paper for months but once the suit was filed, she said she would only speak with an attorney present.
In its filing, the Globe indicated it got the answers it wanted with Sargent’s admission that the text in question was sent when the two did not work together. While the filing says Globe officials plan to speak with Sargent, it only focused on her charges against McGrory.
“The Globe remains hopeful for its outside investigator to interview Ms. Sargent so as to hear directly from her concerning her allegations regarding Mr. McGrory and to review all pertinent information she may possess,” attorney Mark W. Batten wrote in the brief to Judge Christine Roach. “But the Globe is also confident that it has now taken all steps reasonably available to it, and has learned significant new information as a result that will assist the Globe in reaching sound conclusions about Ms. Sargent’s allegations.”Sargent’s attorney, Jack I. Siegal, in his response, said the Globe is engaging in spin to “save face.” He said the dismissal vindicates Sargent and he hopes the paper launches an internal probe far more comprehensive than the one it has conducted so far.
“The Globe‘s withdrawal of its motion and lawsuit vindicate Ms. Sargent and confirm the lack of merits in the Globe‘s allegations,” Siegal wrote. “The Globe‘s attempt to explain their withdrawal by suggesting Ms. Sargent has in any way misled the public or refused to cooperate is yet again simply an effort to save face publicly while admitting that they should never have filed the action in the first instance. Ms. Sargent has always been at the vanguard of raising awareness of inappropriate behavior at the Globe and remains open to speaking with the Globe – without litigation and threats of reprisal.”