One Angry Woman and Roland Fryer’s Life

It’s often necessary to reduce stories of how Title IX investigations go bizarrely awry to their bare bones, as they involve complex and prolix details that in the past would have been dismissed as trivial, nonsensical or incredible that are now built up into serious concerns. In the case of Harvard economist Roland Fryer, defended by maligned Harvard Law professor Ronald Sullivan.

Stuart Taylor meticulously picks apart the case and reveals what has become typical of these investigations. They begin with a woman who, for whatever reason, gets angry with a man, who thereupon either fabricates stories that can’t be disproven or converts matters that were benign before she became disaffected, but then horrific and traumatizing when it serves to avenge her feelings of hostility.

The complainant first told human resources on June 27, 2017 that sex-tinged jokes told by Fryer weeks before had harmed her health and she needed a paid disability leave. The timing, and the details of her June 9 text message exchange with her roommate, suggest that she was indeed becoming anguished, but that Fryer’s sex-tinged jokes weren’t the reason.

Her sexual harassment allegations to Harvard came within hours after a meeting with her immediate supervisor, a representative of her union, and a Harvard human resources official, at which she had angrily rejected the supervisor’s explanation that her many mistakes on the job required a “performance management” plan.

The reason for the emphatic denials and lies about false allegations become apparent when contrasted with facts. There is a consistent theme of women angry, whether because a guy ignored them, broke up with them, or in Fryer’s case, she sucked at her job in his lab and blamed him for her failure.

Five days before that, she had also angrily rejected a severance package offered by Harvard as another option. Sullivan, Fryer’s lawyer, asserts that had Harvard been willing to approve the severance package that the complainant felt she deserved and EdLabs management wanted to give her – roughly $25,000 more than Harvard offered — she would probably never have charged Fryer with sexual harassment. Nor, probably, would any other woman have followed her example.

But the complainant blamed Fryer for not getting her that $25,000. And at about that time, recalls her then-friend Tanaya Devi, she said that “I will do anything possible to make sure I get the money I deserve.”

But isn’t it possible that the accuser both hated her job and was sexually harassed?

Devi could not recall “a single instance” when the complainant “expressed the slightest hint of discomfort” with the off-color tenor of some of the jokes and teasing by Fryer and others that were common in the lab. She said her former friend is “weaponizing an incredibly important movement for personal gains or revenge.”

But Harvard’s defender of the faith, Title IX investigator Brigid Harrington, not only wanted nothing to do with Tanaya Devi’s facts, but did what always happens, credited anything that supported her condemnation of the male, no matter how poor its evidentiary quality, and rationalized why a person without any actual knowledge would be more credible than someone like Devi, who had both actual knowledge and was best friends with the accuser.

And then came the other shoe that typically falls to guarantee that the target of the disgruntled woman is ruined.

In what Fryer calls her “scorched earth campaign,” she also filed sexual harassment complaints against a Fryer aide, a Harvard human resources official, and a Harvard Title IX coordinator. She filed a similar complaint against Fryer and the aide with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. She also urged another Harvard bureaucracy to investigate EdLabs’ finances and Fryer’s spending. It hired an outside auditing firm that has been at work since last October.

Then they go public.

In a December 14, 2018 piece, the New York Times set the stage by noting in its opening sentences that Roland G. Fryer Jr. had attained tenure at Harvard, received a MacArthur “genius” grant, and won the most prestigious award for a young American economist.

In the second paragraph came the takedown: “But his rapid ascent has taken a troubling turn as Harvard officials review a university investigator’s conclusion that Dr. Fryer fostered a work environment hostile to women, one filled with sexual talk and bullying.”

And the myth of the case then becomes irrefutable, evidence, fabrications, nefarious motives notwithstanding. Devi, who defended Fryer against the lies, suffered as well.

Devi has also been Fryer’s most outspoken defender, at great personal and professional cost in what she calls the “suffocating, strongly policed” Harvard environment. Revealingly, the newspaper did not publish a word of what Devi told Cassselman.

But if Fryer deserved it, so what?

“Sexual harassment” is classified by Harvard (and many others) to include everything from a boss’ crude demand to “give me sex or I’ll fire you” to a mild sexual reference that someone, long after the fact, may choose to call “unwelcome.”

This tempts some people motivated by a desire for revenge or money – as some Fryer supporters describes the complainant — to seize on sex-tinged jokes that had little or no emotional impact on them. But the catch-all “sexual harassment” puts men who did no serious wrong in the same category as accused predators such as Harvey Weinstein and Les Moonves.

The conflation of normal human discourse, in which the “victim” is as much a part as the “abuser,” with actual rape or sexual assault has become a hallmark of Title IX inquisitions. It was all happy, fun and friendly, enjoyed by all, until an angry woman decides to seize upon it as a weapon to destroy the person whom she blames for her problems.

And not only will it be blindly accepted by the investigator, and bolstered by whatever trivial details they can unearth or manufacture to create the appearance of a wrong, but be generally assured that the evidence proving it’s false will neither be taken seriously within the Title IX investigation nor the media who turns the internal narrative into the public destruction of a person’s career and life.

Roland Fryer told an off-color joke that offended no one, his accuser included, until she needed a weapon against him. This is what it’s come to. If you read it in the New York Times, you would believe him a monster. Stuart Taylor exposes the lie.

10 thoughts on “One Angry Woman and Roland Fryer’s Life

    1. SHG Post author

      But some smug, nasty prig will be traumatized for life if their delicate ears hear a sex-tinged joke. At least when they’ve decided it’s to their advantage.

  1. tom swift

    What a surprise. Harvard sounds like marriage.

    In a divorce, the man wants to get out; the woman wants to get even.

    And America has a ponderous legal system determined to see that she gets her way.

  2. B. McLeod

    The last few years, I have noticed that many of our TV-advertising colleagues, as well as purveyors of various medical devices and insurance/warranty products, encourage potential customers to seek the fine things they “deserve.” I suppose people who buy into this way of seeing things view any and all tactics as appropriate, because they are only seeking what they “deserve.”

  3. Martin Mellish

    It’s not ONE woman. There are, I believe, six women who report similar types of harassment, and in some cases have texts or emails to back that up. Particularly concerning are the three who allege, and can document, retaliation (asking subordinates to collect dirt on the women, bad-mouthing them to potential employers or educational institutions, etc). Google Fryer on NYTimes for details.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m going to post this comment, despite the fact you’re spreading false information, because it’s very much the point that vague, conclusory crap in the hands of the idiocracy does the damage that due process exists to prevent. The point of the post was about the factual emptiness of the NYT polemic, and you are the dolt doing the dirty work.

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