News Director Out After Inquiry

Sexual Harassment Alleged by Workers

The director of Harvard's Office of News and Public Affairs resigned suddenly and unexpectedly this summer following a University investigation into allegations he sexually harassed female employees.

Peter Costa, the University's chief spokesperson since 1985, vacated that post at the end of July, after a probe conducted by the Office of Human Resources, according to sources familiar with the investigation. He has moved to another post within the University, at Harvard Magazine, where he is now director of broadcast services, a position that was created for him.

The sources said Costa was named in complaints of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior by seven women over the last eight years. All of the women were temporary or support staff, the sources said.

But the sources said the investigation, which was reportedly conducted by Director of Employee Services Mary G. Opperman over a period of several months, was not launched until sometime early last year, when several members of the news office's permanent staff signed a letter to Costa's superiors in which they com- plained about the former director's behavior.

The exact nature of the alleged harassment isunclear. One source said Costa told her and otherfemale employees not to tell their husbands oftheir "special relationships" with him.

Costa last week refused to comment on theharassment allegations, saying discussion ofpersonnel matters is against University policy. Hesaid he resigned to take on a "new challenge" andgive an incoming vice president for government,community and public affairs the opportunity torestructure the news office.


"I thought I might do something morejournalistic," said Costa, a former nationaleditor for United Press International.

Costa said he is "not sure" whether he willremain in his new position over the long term,adding that he left the news office with "mixedfeelings."

"Having done it for eight years, I felt I knewthe University well and it was a lot of fun," hesaid.

Asked if he was troubled by the reportedallegations of sexual harassment, Costa said hewas.

Opperman, Acting Vice President for Government,Community and Public Affairs Jane H. Corlette,President Neil L. Rudenstine, and ActingUniversity Spokesperson Jonathan New all refusedto confirm, deny or comment on the investigation.Members of the news office staff also declined tocomment, and sources said the staffers fearedretribution if they spoke with The Crimson.

Former Vice President for Government, Communityand Public Affairs John H. Shattuck was travelingin Europe last week. Shattuck, who left Harvardlast year to become assistants secretary of statefor democracy, human rights and labor, did notreturn repeated phone messages left with hisWashington, D.C. office and the United Statesembassy in Vienna, where he was meeting with theAmerican ambassador.

Harvard Magazine Publisher Laura Freid, to whomCosta reports for his new job, was on vacationlast week and could not be reached for comment.Other senior officials of the magazine, includingEditor John T. Bethell, did not return phonecalls.

Rudenstine said he has not spoken with Costasince Commencement. "I am not aware of anythingand I would not necessarily be aware of anything,"the president said, adding that Corlette told himCosta was leaving to pursue "a rather intriguingopportunity" at Harvard Magazine.

Rudenstine called his former spokesperson "agood person, an excellent person...very candid anddirect."

"We had an extremely good workingrelationship," Rudenstine said. "I think he wasfirst class."

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