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Are we the gullible ones?

Yesterday I linked to a story about a man and a very strange sequence of events – please read it before reading this, or it’ll spoil the story for you.

The story asked, “Is this the most gullible man in America?” but some readers are wondering if perhaps we’re the gullible ones too.

The story, which is about a law professor who appears to be the victim of a bizarre fraud campaign involving harassment and fake paternity claims, is based entirely on his recollections and claims. It puts forward his account of events that are still under investigation and/or the subject of lawsuits, something that could be considered as an attempt to influence the outcome of those investigations and lawsuits. That’s mentioned in the piece:

Harvard has yet to decide Hay’s fate, but according to multiple off-the-record sources, Hay has already run afoul of investigators for reaching out to journalists (namely me), which they view as an act of retaliation. Harvard has also required Hay to undergo “coaching” for boundary issues.

There are also some odd details in the piece, such as this one:

“[My wife] says my women friends always have ulterior motives, and my response has been that my best friends have been women for my entire adult life,” he says.

The piece moves on from there, but I’m intrigued by that quote. Why doesn’t his ex-wife trust women to be friends with him?

The piece goes into a lot of detail about who said what and where, but misses at least one bizarre event:

One incident between the graduate student and Hay took place on 10th August 2017. At 8.35 PM, Cambridge police responded to a 911 call at her address and said they found the professor hiding outside.

“[Detectives] arrived on scene and located Bruce Hay hiding in the bushes two houses away from [the graduate student’s residence],” a police report says. The report adds that Hay was briefly detained outside the house, and was then served with a restraining order and warned not to contact the graduate student and stay 100 yards away from her at all times.

Douglas Brooks, Hay’s attorney, told babe the restraining order was dismissed a week later. He said that Hay owned the house the graduate student and her family were “illegally occupying,” and that he was hiding outside because he was trying to retrieve his children’s cat, which they were “effectively holding hostage.” These claims are disputed by the graduate student.

You’d think that’s the kind of event a journalist wouldn’t be able to resist, but presumably the professor didn’t provide that story.

That’s not to say the article isn’t true or the events described didn’t happen exactly as the story says. And of course, victims are victims whether they’re saints or sinners. But as some commenters on MetaFilter have pointed out, it does feel like there’s much more to this strange, deeply unpleasant story than made it to the page.