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Verdict Expected Today in Discrimination Trial

By Elizabeth S. Zuckerman

Former University security guard Viatcheslav "Steve" Abramian's discrimination suit against the University went to the jury at noon yesterday after almost three weeks of trial. A verdict is expected today.

The lawsuit alleges that discrimination on the basis of national origin led to Abramian's 1993 termination and seeks damages. Abramian is originally from Russia.

Earlier this week, Justice James F. McHugh dismissed charges against defendant Brian Sinclair deeming them not proven. The cases against the remaining six defendants were upheld and sent to the jury, according to Abramian's attorney, John G. Swomley.

In an interview with The Crimson, Swomley said that although he is concerned about the psychological impact on the jury of charges against Sinclair being dropped, "As a practical matter, if we win against anyone, we win."

The trial has not been without incident. Late last week, Swomley was held in contempt of court.

While questioning witness Donald P. Behenna, Swomley pursued a line of questioning which the judge had deemed inadmissible, Swomley told The Crimson.

The judge will determine his sanction after the trial, according to Swomley.

The defense, led by University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr., began its case on Monday.

On Wednesday, the court heard testimony from former security guard Mark J. Martin.

Martin, who was also terminated by the University, testified that he encountered Abramian at a homeless shelter in Jamaica Plain in June 1994.

According to Martin's testimony, Abramian approached him and began talking about his intent to sue Harvard and mentioned that he was going to make a lot of money of all of this."

Martin said Abramian told him that Robert J. Dowling, former manager of operations for police and security, didn't like Abramian and was a racist.

Martin told the court that "Mr. Abramian asked if I would go to court and say Bob Dowling was a racist. I couldn't say if he was or not. Abramian said there would be a chunk of change in it for me."

Martin testified that he then became angry with Abramian and ended the conversation.

Earlier, McHugh had ruled that Martin's testimony "does demonstrate financial interest in the outcome" and was "admissible with respect to Mr. Abramian's testimony."

Swomley challenged Martin's credibility on the grounds that Martin previously had problems with drugs and alcohol. Martin acknowledged that he previously had a drug problem but denied this affected his testimony.

Swomley further alleged in court that while at Harvard, Martin was among the guards who were "friendly" with management. Martin testified he had one friend in management.

Defendants Dowling and former security guard Timothy Carlow also testified Wednesday.

Dowling denied allegations that he had ever discriminated on the basis of national origin, noting that his mother was an immigrant who never became a United States citizen.

He further denied the allegation that he had ever supported the candidacy or the positions of David Duke, a politician and former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Carlow, whom the lawsuit alleges was the instigator of a fight with Abramian which led to Abramian's termination, denied he and Dowling had ever colluded to damage Abramian's career.

Carlow also testified about Thomas F. Henaghan, another defendant whom Abramian alleges harassed him over the course of three years.

Carlow said that Henaghan was "a real stickler for the rules."

"If he knew you were out of uniform or doing something at the same time every shift, he'd be there to get you," he said.

Carlow also acknowledged that a document which he filed earlier in the lawsuit proceedings was inaccurate.

He had indicated that while at Harvard he did not have any written warnings for disciplinary infractions. However, Carlow's personnel file showed at least one written warning and a number of memos detailing disciplinary infractions. Carlow testified he had not remembered the written warning and had filled out the interrogatory to the best of his ability at the time.

Harvard Reaction

In 1992, when a number of guards charged they had experienced discriminatory treatment, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said racial tension in the guard unit was "a serious problem" for the College. He told The Crimson that such tension might affect how guards treat students.

Now, however, Epps said he is "very pleased" with recent changes in the department such as required sensitivity training sessions.

Although Epps said that he is not familiar enough with the case to comment, he believes that many of the concerns which he expressed during the tumultuous period in which Abramian's charges surfaced have been resolved.

"My principal concern was that students of color not have to worry about how they would be treated and frankly I no longer have that worry," he said this week.

"I think [Chief of Harvard University Police Department Francis D.] "But" Riley has done an excellent job in changing the conduct of police in this area. I no longer have a concern about it," he said.CrimsonGeoffery A. FowlerDefendant ROBERT J. DOWLING

Swomley challenged Martin's credibility on the grounds that Martin previously had problems with drugs and alcohol. Martin acknowledged that he previously had a drug problem but denied this affected his testimony.

Swomley further alleged in court that while at Harvard, Martin was among the guards who were "friendly" with management. Martin testified he had one friend in management.

Defendants Dowling and former security guard Timothy Carlow also testified Wednesday.

Dowling denied allegations that he had ever discriminated on the basis of national origin, noting that his mother was an immigrant who never became a United States citizen.

He further denied the allegation that he had ever supported the candidacy or the positions of David Duke, a politician and former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Carlow, whom the lawsuit alleges was the instigator of a fight with Abramian which led to Abramian's termination, denied he and Dowling had ever colluded to damage Abramian's career.

Carlow also testified about Thomas F. Henaghan, another defendant whom Abramian alleges harassed him over the course of three years.

Carlow said that Henaghan was "a real stickler for the rules."

"If he knew you were out of uniform or doing something at the same time every shift, he'd be there to get you," he said.

Carlow also acknowledged that a document which he filed earlier in the lawsuit proceedings was inaccurate.

He had indicated that while at Harvard he did not have any written warnings for disciplinary infractions. However, Carlow's personnel file showed at least one written warning and a number of memos detailing disciplinary infractions. Carlow testified he had not remembered the written warning and had filled out the interrogatory to the best of his ability at the time.

Harvard Reaction

In 1992, when a number of guards charged they had experienced discriminatory treatment, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said racial tension in the guard unit was "a serious problem" for the College. He told The Crimson that such tension might affect how guards treat students.

Now, however, Epps said he is "very pleased" with recent changes in the department such as required sensitivity training sessions.

Although Epps said that he is not familiar enough with the case to comment, he believes that many of the concerns which he expressed during the tumultuous period in which Abramian's charges surfaced have been resolved.

"My principal concern was that students of color not have to worry about how they would be treated and frankly I no longer have that worry," he said this week.

"I think [Chief of Harvard University Police Department Francis D.] "But" Riley has done an excellent job in changing the conduct of police in this area. I no longer have a concern about it," he said.CrimsonGeoffery A. FowlerDefendant ROBERT J. DOWLING

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