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Former Dean's Harassment Case against MIT Is Dismissed

By Christopher L. Falling
Associate News Editor

On Feb. 3, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination dismissed the harassment case filed about a year and a half ago against the Institute by former Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey, finding it to be without probable cause.

Tewhey has since appealed the decision.

MCAD, a state agency that hears harassment and discrimination cases, "has totally misunderstood the facts," Tewhey said. "They claim that I have not filed any written complaints when the record shows that there are two written grievances with MIT. The decision they came to is supported by neither legal theory nor the facts; that is why I appealed it," he said.

In a copy of a letter sent to Tewhey from Personnel Director Joan F. Rice and printed in The Tech on Nov. 30, 1993, Rice said "that there was not sufficient basis for MIT to go forward and process the grievance."

Responding to MCAD's recent dismissal of his case, Tewhey provided a short note requesting an appeal in mid-February, he said. "I will send a memorandum of law to MCAD sometime next week."

Tewhey's appeal will be evaluated by an investigating commissioner not yet assigned, said Jane Brayton, a spokesperson for MCAD.

"My guess is that a hearing for the appeal will not be scheduled for another four-to-five weeks," Tewhey said.

First charges filed in 1993

In April 1993 a Newton court placed a restraining order on Tewhey, barring him from coming within five yards of Katherine M. Nolan, a financial aid administrator with whom he had an 18-month-long affair.

Tewhey and Nolan had filed harassment charges against each other within MIT and secured restraining orders against one another. On April 16 of that year Tewhey and Provost Mark S. Wrighton decided that his position was untenable after the Newton court extended Nolan's restraining order for six months.

Wrighton announced that Tewhey had resigned on April 20, 1993, but Tewhey never signed a letter of resignation and officially left MIT that October.

Charges that Tewhey was a poor manager and that he harassed students surfaced. As a result of some of those charges, J. Paul Kirby '92 filed a complaint against Sharon P. Shea, a staff accountant who worked with the Undergraduate Association Finance Board. Kirby charged Shea with spreading malicious rumors about Tewhey and him.

MIT's investigation of Shea concluded that "no further action is called for in processing [Kirby's] grievance," Wrighton wrote in a letter to Kirby. Wrighton also concluded that Shea had shown poor judgment concerning "rumors about [Kirby and Tewhey]," he wrote.

After MIT's investigation concluded, Tewhey and Shea turned to MCAD to determine if they should proceed to trial.

Tewhey filed the charges on Aug. 17, 1993. Shea filed her MCAD complaint against MIT on Nov. 2, 1993, charging she was denied a promotion and her workload was reduced because of her suit against Tewhey and Kirby's suit against her. Her MCAD complaint is still under investigation.

"I think that MCAD has done an awful review of the record," Tewhey said. "They have never investigated my charges against Sharon Shea or claims of retaliation," he said.