Woman Sues Harvard For Sexual Harassment

University Strongly Denies Employee's Charges

A woman who says a Harvard administrator sexually harassed her has filed a lawsuit charging that the University ignored and covered up her complaint.

University officials denied that sexual harassment had occurred and said the lawsuit is without merit.

M. Delise Battenfield, an Extension School administrator now on leave, filed a complaint in Middlesex Superior Court last July against Harvard University and three of her former colleagues charging:

. That Donald Ostrowski, research coordinator in the masters of liberal arts program at the Extension School, "on several occasions during the fall of 1988... requested sexual favors from the plaintiff and made unauthorized physical contact of a sexual nature while they were alone discussing work."

. That Dean of Continuing Education and University Extension Michael Shinagel condoned sexual discrimination and a hostile work environment by mishandling and failing to investigate her harassment complaint.


. That the plaintiff, Battenfield, now on disability leave as assistant director for the masters of liberal arts program at the Extension School, became severely ill as a result of the harassment and hostile workplace environment.

Harvard denied the charges in a response filed last December. The case is scheduled to go to trial in September.

"There's no merit to the case," Shinagel said Saturday. He refused to comment further, referring questions to University lawyers.

University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr. said in an interview last week, "As far as we know, there's been nothing improper at all done here." He declined to comment further on the allegations.

"The case is still in a very early stage," Ryan said.

Ostrowski, who is still employed at the Extension School, said he was unaware of the lawsuit and denied the sexual harassment charges.

"I can deny any claim, in any way, shape or form, of sexual harassment," Ostrowski said Friday.

Ostrowski said Extension School administrators and University lawyers had not informed him about the lawsuit--even though University lawyers had already filed a legal response denying the charges.

"So there's a lawsuit?" he said. "Why haven't they told me?"

When a reporter informed him of the allegationsof sexual harassment, Ostrowski said, "That'svery, very, very serious."

Ostrowski said he did not know Battenfieldwell. He said he thought she stopped working atthe Extension School because she wanted to write aplay.