Harvard Professor Arrested for Assault and Battery with Hot Coffee, Thermos

HBS Professor will plead not guity to charges stemming from parking altercation

Harvard Business School professor Lee O. Fleming is pleading not guilty to charges of assault and battery after police arrested him last week for allegedly throwing hot coffee at an individual during a parking dispute.

Fleming's lawyer, Paul R. Mastrocola of Burns & Levinson LLP, said that the professor "looks forward to addressing these allegations in court." He and Fleming both declined to comment on the specifics of the incident and court proceedings due to the pending criminal charges, but Mastrocola added that they are confident the professor will be vindicated. He did confirm that the dispute took place on a Cambridge public street.

According to the Cambridge Police Department's online Daily Public Log, Fleming and another individual got into an argument on June 1 about a parking situation, after which Fleming "threatened the victim with a thermos and threw hot coffee all over the victim." He was arrested at 8:43 a.m. for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (hot coffee) and by means of a dangerous weapon (thermos).

Cambridge Police Department spokesman Frank T. Pasquarello said that the investigation is ongoing and that both parties have been cooperating with police. He declined to disclose the identity of the victim.

Media write-ups of the altercation based on a police report state that Fleming called police after finding a car parked in front of his driveway. The situation reportedly escalated after the car's owner came out to move the vehicle, although Fleming is said to have apologized for his actions after he cooled down.

Pasquarello said he did not have the police report on hand but said that it was based on the testimony of both parties. A magistrate will likely hear both sides' testimony in a couple weeks to determine if there is probable cause to justify a hearing in front of a judge, he added.

"Hopefully things get resolved so that both people are satisfied with the outcome," Pasquarello said.

The Cambridge District Court declined to share information on the case's scheduling and proceedings over the telephone.

Fleming, who earned his doctorate in organizational behavior at Stanford, competed on the U.S. National Cycling Team in college, according to his Web site. His research examines ways that managers can help their organizations make breakthroughs through collaboration and scientific strategies, and he teaches a multidisciplinary course that brings together students from business, science, engineering, and medicine to work on science commercialization projects.

University spokesman John D. Longbrake referred questions about University censure for the professor to the Business School, and James E. Aisner '68, a spokesman for HBS, declined to comment on the incident.

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at pzhu@fas.harvard.edu.