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OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE?

When University police tried to arrest a student charged with stalking, they ran into a problem--the rest of Harvard.

By Andrew L. Wright

A series of threatening letters, including one ordering a female Harvard Summer School student to "visit me ASAP I intend to kill you," led University police in early August to search for a 17-year-old acquaintance, also a summer school student, who had been stalking her.

But along the way, the police ran into some unexpected interference--from the Harvard administration.

Since the alleged stalker was arrested six hours after the search began, the Office of the General Counsel and high-level Harvard administrators have begun an internal investigation into what University insiders are calling one of the most bizarre confrontations between police and administrators in recent memory.

Officials throughout the University aren't talking about the incident for the record. The boy is due back in court next week to face stalking charges.

According to the district attorney's office as well as internal University documents obtained by The Crimson, Harvard administrators repeatedly refused to turn over the accused boy to the Harvard police--even though those same administrators had called to alert HUPD to the letters and other incidents of stalking.

The district attorney's office and police say University officials tried to prevent officers from talking to the girl to find out if she felt threatened. Harvard administrators also moved the boy to several different locations around the University in an apparent effort to impede the police investigation into the stalking, authorities say.

Things got so bad that the Cambridge Assistant District Attorney on-call, David Yanetti, called Lowell House Master William H. Bossert late at night to order Bossert to turn the suspect over to police at once.

"In my discussions with Bossert and other administrators, the attitude of the Harvard officials was that this was just 'teenage hijinks,'--those were the words they used with me," Yanetti says. "But as a prosecutor I know that death threats like these should always be taken seriously, and that's what the Harvard police and the D.A.'s office were trying to do.

"There are situations that can be handled in-house but this was absolutely not one of them."

The girl's mother agrees.

She has written letters to Harvard officials, including President Neil L. Rudenstine, and has hired a lawyer to let the University know how she feels.

"Harvard University Summer School was remiss in many of the ways they treated our daughter during and after the stalking incident. Her safety was compromised and her concerns were minimized," she wrote Harvard Police Chief Paul E. Johnson in an August letter.

"We always felt that Harvard was very busy and doing an excellent job of protecting [the boy's] interests and had very little interest in the welfare and well-being of the victim," she wrote. "The Harvard Police...were quite the opposite."

For example, Elizabeth C. Hewitt, the director of the secondary school students' summer program, deemed the girl's fear of her stalker serious enough to move her to a new room. But authorities say Hewitt still would not let the police talk with the frightened teenager.

Police sources say Hewitt would not give officers the girl's room location. The summer program director also reportedly told the girl that notifying Harvard police "would not be necessary."

The girl's mother says Hewitt put her daughter in even greater jeopardy by relocating her to a third-floor Greenough room without a phone. The suspect had card-key access to Greenough, according to police.

"I think that Hewitt made an assumption right away that [the boy] wasn't dangerous," the mother says. "But she had no basis to make it on."

Questioned at her Brattle Street office last week, Hewitt repeatedly declined to comment on the case, which she called a "disciplinary matter." She did not say if the boy had been disciplined by the University.

Did Bossert Threaten Police?

The police report says Bossert--who became involved in the case when summer school officials contacted him as the ranking University officer at that hour of the night--threatened investigating officer Robert Kotowski when Kotowski attempted to pursue the case.

Bossert called HUPD around midnight and told Kotowski, according to the officer's report: "[Bossert said he] was the senior officer of the University and advised me to discontinue my actions. When I explained to him that under the stalking laws we are mandated to act, he said, 'If you go against my advice you will suffer the consequences tomorrow.'"

But, after his conversation with the Cambridge District Attorney, Bossert did in fact turn over the boy, a 17-year-old California native, to Harvard officers. The suspect was arrested by University police on the house masters doorstep at #50 Holyoke Street shortly after midnight on Aug. 2.

The boy was later arraigned on stalking chatees and released to the custody of his parents.

But with all of the juvenile court records confidential, that's where the public record ends and the questions begin.

Harvard officials, as of now, aren't answering any inquiries.

Bossert says he cannot comment on the report because he had not seen it and declined to discuss the case in general.

Kotowski has repeatedly declined to comment, referring all inquiries to University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr.

Ryan, too, says he can't discuss the matter because the criminal proceedings are ongoing.

"It's better off not to say anything at this point," Ryan says.

'No Written Procedures'

The girl's mother said her daughter did not know the boy who was stalking her until they met at summer school.

The mother also says she asked Hewitt to fax her Harvard's procedures for handling such a case. But Hewitt told her she had "no written procedures to follow in these types of situations" and had no access to a fax machine, the mother and police say.

While declining to discuss the stalking case specifically, Virginia L. Mackay-Smith '78, the secretary to the College's Administrative Board, says "there should have been a bedrock knowledge that [the Faculty of Arts and Sciences] takes this seriously and will respond to cases.

"The FAS policy is not to stand in the way," Mackay-Smith says. "We recognize that cases like this can be subject to legal or court action and that in fact we will take pains to accommodate the court action if the student wants us to.

"The police are trained professionals and we would never presume to tell them how to do their jobs," she adds. "But it is not unusual for upper-level administrators charged with the welfare of the students to consult with the security personnel."

Sources inside the Harvard police department are expressing frustration with the Harvard administration over the incident.

"A failure to act would have left us wide open to a civil suit," says a department source.

"If this girl gets killed and you're the officer and you knew about it but you didn't do anything about it because some administrator called and told you to back off, how awful would you feel? How are you going to live with that?" the source asks.

Johnson, the police chief, says "several meetings" between police and administration officials are planned for this month to discuss how to avoid a similar situation in the future.

"We want to try to coordinate to resolve some of the problems that arose out of that incident, but talking about it would only exacerbate the issue," Johnson says.

He has declined to comment further.

Despite the official silence, Harvard still has some explaining to do--if only to the mother of a frightened 17-year-old girl.

"I don't know why the administrators did what they did," the mother said in a telephone interview last week. "I'm just amazed by this whole thing...It's all just very strange."CrimsonJohn C. MitchellThe Lowell House masters' residence

But, after his conversation with the Cambridge District Attorney, Bossert did in fact turn over the boy, a 17-year-old California native, to Harvard officers. The suspect was arrested by University police on the house masters doorstep at #50 Holyoke Street shortly after midnight on Aug. 2.

The boy was later arraigned on stalking chatees and released to the custody of his parents.

But with all of the juvenile court records confidential, that's where the public record ends and the questions begin.

Harvard officials, as of now, aren't answering any inquiries.

Bossert says he cannot comment on the report because he had not seen it and declined to discuss the case in general.

Kotowski has repeatedly declined to comment, referring all inquiries to University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr.

Ryan, too, says he can't discuss the matter because the criminal proceedings are ongoing.

"It's better off not to say anything at this point," Ryan says.

'No Written Procedures'

The girl's mother said her daughter did not know the boy who was stalking her until they met at summer school.

The mother also says she asked Hewitt to fax her Harvard's procedures for handling such a case. But Hewitt told her she had "no written procedures to follow in these types of situations" and had no access to a fax machine, the mother and police say.

While declining to discuss the stalking case specifically, Virginia L. Mackay-Smith '78, the secretary to the College's Administrative Board, says "there should have been a bedrock knowledge that [the Faculty of Arts and Sciences] takes this seriously and will respond to cases.

"The FAS policy is not to stand in the way," Mackay-Smith says. "We recognize that cases like this can be subject to legal or court action and that in fact we will take pains to accommodate the court action if the student wants us to.

"The police are trained professionals and we would never presume to tell them how to do their jobs," she adds. "But it is not unusual for upper-level administrators charged with the welfare of the students to consult with the security personnel."

Sources inside the Harvard police department are expressing frustration with the Harvard administration over the incident.

"A failure to act would have left us wide open to a civil suit," says a department source.

"If this girl gets killed and you're the officer and you knew about it but you didn't do anything about it because some administrator called and told you to back off, how awful would you feel? How are you going to live with that?" the source asks.

Johnson, the police chief, says "several meetings" between police and administration officials are planned for this month to discuss how to avoid a similar situation in the future.

"We want to try to coordinate to resolve some of the problems that arose out of that incident, but talking about it would only exacerbate the issue," Johnson says.

He has declined to comment further.

Despite the official silence, Harvard still has some explaining to do--if only to the mother of a frightened 17-year-old girl.

"I don't know why the administrators did what they did," the mother said in a telephone interview last week. "I'm just amazed by this whole thing...It's all just very strange."CrimsonJohn C. MitchellThe Lowell House masters' residence

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