The Boston Globe Has Dropped Its Lawsuit Against Hilary Sargent

The Globe had filed an injunction to force Sargent, a former boston.com staffer, to turn over information.

Brick photo via iStock/123ducu

The Boston Globe has decided to end its legal battle with Hilary Sargent, a former employee who shared saved text messages conversations on Twitter that appeared to show someone—whom she claimed to be the Globe‘s top editor—sending suggestive messages.

The outlet has dropped efforts to seek an injunction that would have forced Sargent, who was once an editor at the Globe-owned boston.com, to sit down for an official interview and hand over documents related to her allegations against editor Brian McGrory. In its announcement, the Globe cited statements from Sargent and her lawyer that an inappropriate text allegedly sent to her by McGrory was “more likely” sent after she was no longer an employee at the paper.

“After learning facts disclosed for the first time by Hilary Sargent … the Boston Globe believes that legal action is no longer necessary,” reads a statement released by the Globe. “Ms. Sargent has finally provided the information the Globe has requested from the start.”

Back in May, Sargent posted a screenshot on Twitter in May of a an inappropriate text exchange with a person she identified as Globe editor Brian McGrory. The screenshot did not include a timestamp, so it was not clear whether she still worked at the site when he sent it. McGrory says he does not remember the conversation. A judge last week ordered lawyers for Sargent and the Globe to discuss the case with one another before reporting back in a joint letter.

Sargent, who says she has tried for months to bring concerns about sexual harassment to Globe leadership to no avail, said she is pleased by the paper’s decision, and criticized its pursuit of legal action against her. “No media institution that expects to be taken seriously on 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 wrote. “I am disappointed that the Globe’s leadership chose that route, and I’m pleased they chose to drop this lawsuit. I look forward to speaking openly without the threat of litigation, and in a manner that takes into account the sensitivity of the subject matter.”

She added in a tweet: “To all those who have shown their support over the last few weeks, thank you. To those that haven’t, what can I say except I hope you never find yourself in my shoes.”

Read the full statement from the Globe:

After learning facts disclosed for the first time by Hilary Sargent, a former boston.com employee, in court, the Boston Globe believes that legal action is no longer necessary.  The action’s purpose was to ascertain the truth about a serious allegation Ms. Sargent publicly leveled on social media regarding an inappropriate text exchange between her and Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory.  In her tweet, she implied that it was sent while she was an employee at boston.com, although there was no date visible.
Faced with Ms. Sargent’s refusal to provide the date of the exchange, the Globe brought legal action to expeditiously learn all relevant information from Ms. Sargent.  That legal action succeeded in achieving its purpose: Ms. Sargent has finally provided the information the Globe has requested from the start.  Crucially, Ms. Sargent has now admitted that she does “not recall” when the messages were sent and it is “more likely” that they were sent after she worked at the Globe.
Our responsibility has been to conduct the most thorough investigation we can and take every reasonable step before making any determinations. The court yesterday noted that employers sometimes must conduct investigations, as the Globe has done here, without complete information from the complainant, and draw conclusions based on the available information which we concede, though not ideal, is an option.
The Globe remains hopeful for its outside investigator to interview Ms. Sargent to hear directly from her concerning Mr. McGrory and to review all pertinent information.  We are now confident that because we have taken all steps reasonably available to us, including this legal action,  we have learned significant new information. And as a result will assist the Globe in reaching sound conclusions about Ms. Sargent’s allegations.

And this is the full statement provided by Sargent, who also tweeted it out.

Last fall, I began asking The Boston Globe’s leadership to be open to hearing privately about
the experiences of former employees with respect to sexual harassment. My requests to discuss
the matter privately were ignored. It wasn’t until I went public last month with an accusation that
the Globe contacted me, and immediately threatened litigation. I have never refused to cooperate
in the Globe’s “investigation.” 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. I am disappointed that the Globe’s leadership chose that
route, and I’m pleased they chose to drop this lawsuit. I look forward to speaking openly without
the threat of litigation, and in a manner that takes into account the sensitivity of the subject
matter.