City of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Thursday announced a special recognition for former Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory.
January 26 will now be known in Boston as Brian McGrory Day, according to a tweet from Globe writer Lissandra Villa de Petrzelka.
Whether the Tweet was a joke or not is up in the air — there has been no official comment from the Mayor’s office, nor has there been an official proclamation from the city.
But if Wu really did attempt to memorialize McGrory’s tenure at the Boston Globe with such a high honor, the news would come as a surprise to at least one former Globe intern, who worked under McGrory, and later became editor of Boston.com.
In the Spring of 2018, when the #MeToo movement was in full swing, former Boston Globe intern and former Boston.com editor Hilary Sargent accused McGrory of sexual misconduct in the work place.
Sargent said McGrory had sent her inappropriate messages when she was his supervisor, and she had the receipts to back it up.
According to screenshots in tweets Sargent published, but has since removed, Sargent reached out asking for writerly advice and was met with an inquiry from McGrory about she was wearing.
Sargent’s accusation caused a stir in Boston news rooms at the time.
The allegations against McGrory followed a separate accusation of sexual misconduct in the newsroom leveled against editor Jim O’Sullivan. At first, the Globe attempted to withhold O’Sullivan’s name from the public, a decision made by McGrory. He later apologized.
Criticism over how the Globe covered sexual misconduct allegations in light of its own institutional problems only intensified. In a subsequent series of tweets, Sargent offered to talk with the Globe as they investigated her allegations, which went beyond the single text message to include other instances of inappropriate behavior.
McGrory published a memo strongly denying her allegations. He said he’s never harassed a women at the Globe and pointed to his strong track record of hiring female employees.
McGrory said he didn’t remember sending the text message to Sargent. He said that “some context” was necessary to understand him asking a female writer, “what do you general wear when you write?”
In the memo, McGrory offers a bit of that context: “Hilary and I dated many years ago,” he wrote.
The Globe eventually sued Sargent in an attempt to enforce part of her separation agreement that reportedly required her to cooperate with an investigations related to her employment. The nut of the Globe suit was an attempt to establish whether Sargent was actually employed by the Globe when the offensive text message was sent, something which could not be determined from the screenshots.
As a result of that lawsuit, Sargent published an affidavit in which she disclosed an on-and-off romantic relationship with McGrory from 1999 to 2004. Sargent interned with the paper from June 1998 to August 1999. The affidavit doesn’t state precisely when the relationship began, i.e. did it begin while Sargent was still an intern or after she’d left that position, but it nonetheless began when Sargent was a 20-year-old college student and McGrory was somewhat famous columnist.
Below is a photo of the Globe ID Sargent published, showing a photo of her around the time McGrory, then in his 30s, started a romantic relationship with her.
Throughout the ordeal, Sargent insisted that she wanted the Globe to apply the same standards to itself that it has applied when investigating sprawling abuses of the Catholic Church in Boston and elsewhere. It also emerged that Sargent sent private messages to various Globe corporate officials, including owner John Henry, imploring them to talk with her about her experiences as a young woman working for the Globe.
What came of it all? A citywide shrug. Eventually, when the dust settled, Boston media and even media columnists largely forgot about the ordeal. The legal dispute between Sargent and the Globe went away without much fanfare.
The Globe dropped their lawsuit against her, claiming in a statement that they finally obtained information that suggested the text message Sargent posted was not sent while Sargent was working for the Globe.
In other words, the text message might have been creepy and inappropriate, but it wasn’t a workplace issue.
Sargent responded in a now-deleted tweet.
“No media institution that expects to be taken seriously on the the issue of sexual harassment should ignore concerns of one of its former employees, nor should they resort to litigation as a first option,” she said. “I am disappointed that the Globe’s leadership chose that route, and I’m pleased they chose to drop this lawsuit.”
After that, the Globe stopped talking about any internal allegations of misconduct. And last year, McGrory landed a job leading Boston University’s Department of Journalism.