During Barack Obama’s tenure as the president of the Harvard Law Review in the late 1980s, at least two male student editors complained to colleagues and senior university officials about inappropriate behavior by Obama, ultimately leaving their positions at the journal, multiple sources confirm to THE KANSAS CITIAN.
The men complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Obama that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the university that gave them financial payouts to leave the journal. The agreements also included language that bars the men from talking about their departures.
In a series of comments over the past 10 days, Obama and his administration repeatedly declined to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment at the journal. They have also declined to address questions about specific reporting confirming that there were financial settlements in two cases in which men leveled complaints.
THE KANSAS CITIAN has confirmed the identities of the two male journal editors who complained about Obama but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told THE KANSAS CITIAN the president indicated to White House staff that he was “vaguely familiar” with the charges and that the university’s general counsel had resolved the matter.
Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review from late-1988 to mid-1989. THE KANSAS CITIAN learned of the allegations against him, and over the course of several weeks, has put together accounts of what happened by talking to a lengthy roster of former university officials, current and past students and others familiar with the workings of the journal at the time Obama was there.
In one case, THE KANSAS CITIAN has seen documentation describing the allegations and showing that the university formally resolved the matter. Both men received separation packages that were in the five-figure range.
On the details of Obama’s allegedly inappropriate behavior with the two men, THE KANSAS CITIAN has a half-dozen sources shedding light on different aspects of the complaints.
The sources — including the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the men upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned journal events and at the journal’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made men who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.
UPDATE: Third man comes forward to AP.
A third former editor says he considered filing a workplace complaint over what he considered aggressive and unwanted behavior by Barack Obama when he worked under the president in the 1991 at the University of Chicago. He says the behavior included a private invitation to his apartment.
He worked for the University of Chicago when he was a Visiting Law and Government Fellow. He told The Associated Press that Obama made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that the two editors of the Harvard Law Review had settled separate harassment complaints against him. The employee described situations in which he said Obama told him he had confided to colleagues how attractive he was and invited him to his apartment outside work. He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he feared retaliation. The White House declined to comment.