Please Help

This entry was posted by on Friday, 16 April, 2010 at

February 7, 2008

Dear Steve,

I fear I’m imposing on our friendship but you’ve been a close friend and ally of MW’s  for many years.  And for my part, I am very fond of you and believe you to be a kind and caring man with a strong moral center, a clear sense of justice, and the ability to affect situations in which you take an interest.

As you know, KSB has been bullying MW unmercifully and went as far as menacing and battering her after a board meeting last summer.  As you also know, MW finally couldn’t take his abuse any longer and finally shared the experience with the board.

KSB’s response was to deny any wrong doing and appoint a committee to investigate MW’s complaint. I believe that you have received a copy of the committee’s findings and are aware of the “gag” imposed by KSB, who despite being the accused, is in complete control of the investigation.  You know that the committee has chosen to believe KSB’s version of the story and punish MW by convening a home office committee to tell how to do her job.

Since this started MW’s health and well-being have steadily declined, which has in turn affected our family, particularly our teenaged daughter.  Though we are, of course, discrete when discussing this issue, she is well aware that a man threatened and assaulted her mother at a meeting, that the same man continues to torment her, that her mother fears for her job, and that, with the exception of you, GG, and long time friend FLF, her colleagues have done nothing to help.  ODW is a very sensitive and empathetic person.  Her sleep and school work are starting to suffer.  Our son is in elementary school.  HHW’s not clear on the details but knows “KSB”  is picking on mommy.  And he too showing signs of stress.

It’s not my intention to dump the responsibility for this on you. MW is a wise and capable executive who has worked with some 13 presidents over the last 21 years.  So it’s easy to assume that she’ll survive KSB as well.  However, as you’ve learned from the report there are underlying issues in her history that handicap her ability to fight on this particular battleground and that make KSB’s behavior acutely damaging.  She’s loth to ask for help but she needs it.

The cards are stacked against her.  KSB appointed the members of the investigative committee. The members recognize themselves in their documents as “serving the president,” not the organization.  Knowing human nature as we do, acting impartially in these circumstances is a pretty tall order even for the most fair minded individuals.

The investigative process he set up is corrupt on nearly every level.  First and foremost, it is inappropriate for the accused perpetrator of a crime to choose his inquisitors and then have control over when and if the results can be released.

Moreover, he stacked the deck.  They were all men.  Two are past-presidents.  One is president-elect.  In his blog, PBD expresses admiration for KSB. He also speaks very flippantly about workplace bullying elsewhere in his blog.  FWF and his wife socialize with KSB and his wife.  KSB has set himself up as gate keeper of the information.  He threatened to sue TGG for libel (or slander, I never get these two straight).  KSB is known to jealously guard his reputation and has gone as far a suing the a southwestern state Supreme Court in 1998.  So this is a real threat.  He is also a former president of a large Washington DC based non-profit and advocacy organization. and is therefore situated as powerful figure who is better kept as an ally than an enemy.

In the investigative arena, three people witnessed the assault. Two unequivocally supported MW’s accusations.  The third, while equivocal, does not deny that the interchange was unpleasant. The inquisition committee characterized her recollection of the event as “awkward.” PC never explained why she waited in the board room after the meeting (or the committee didn’t report her reasons) and then left immediately after it was apparent that MW was safe.  There is no mention that (1) that KSB’s back was to her so that she could not see his facial expressions, (2) that she spent the entire time digging through her belongings and therefore was not explicitly looking at the altercations, (3) that she is blind in one eye. and (4) that she later acknowledged the situation by email to MW.

And last, KSB’s actions (were and) continue to be inimical to the organization’s long term well being.  He’s created an atmosphere in which bullying and assault are tolerated.  He has put his own personal agenda over the interest of the organization, E.g., committing the organization  to spend astronomical amounts of money on a project it cannot afford and for which the proceeds go, in part, to a friend’s nee’re do well son. And in bullying and abusing the organization’s Chief Executive Officer he is wilfully damaging the organization’s most valuable asset.

In trying to come to grips with this situation, I fell back on my inner nerd and have been researching workplace bullying.  I’m including a particularly insightful academic paper on the subject.  The text is very instructive and it would serve the organization well to learn its lessons.

I don’t know what else to do to help except to ask for help on MW’s behalf.  As a victim of a violent crime and systematic abuse, she feel powerless to make a change.  And the investigative committee has underscored this with their findings.

And understand that I am taking a tremendous risk.  If she finds out I did this or if it should become known to KSB and she loses her job, I will very likely end up with my bags on the doorstep.


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