Star Economist at Harvard Faces Sexual Harassment Complaints

Star Economist at Harvard Faces Sexual Harassment Complaints

Dr. Fryer began sending her text messages that “quickly veered into flirtatious and sexual overtures,” according to her complaint, which has been reviewed by The Times, along with text messages that the two exchanged. He invited her to see him socially, and she initially agreed, but became uncomfortable as he pushed her to spend more time with him away from the lab.

In her first month, she made visits to his apartment at night to play video games, and he sometimes complained that she left too early or did not drink enough while there. He invited her to weekend activities that he said needed to stay a secret from others in the lab, to avoid rumors. And he sent after-hours BlackBerry messages, including one telling her: “Ur lucky ur not here. I would either tackle, bite u or both.”

The woman told friends she was upset by the messages and his conduct, according to documents in her complaint, and she stopped visiting his apartment.

After that, Dr. Fryer began to criticize her work. She informed human resources, but was told that the university could not transfer her to a different researcher.

Dr. Fryer apologized to the woman and said she had misinterpreted his “friendly nature,” according to notes taken at the time by two managers in the lab. The apology, along with a pledge never to contact the woman outside of work hours, appears to have been suggested by a university official, the notes show.

The woman’s formal complaint, filed this year, includes an email sent by Dr. Fryer to a deputy soon after her visit to human resources. “I will be sending you every complaint I have about her performance on a regular basis,” Dr. Fryer told the deputy, Richard Hagey, who has since died.

Seven months later, after what she described in her complaint as “tirades” by Dr. Fryer about her job performance, the woman resigned. She pursued a career in a different academic field.

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