Saturday, October 15, 2011

A scoop from the Post: allegations of sexual harassment provoked Stuckey's departure from jobs at NYU and FCR; Ratner's influence got him NYU position

Finally, a media outlet has published an explanation for why Jim Stuckey, Forest City Ratner's former Atlantic Yards point man, and then head of the NYU Schack Real Estate Institute, departed both jobs in a similarly hasty fashion: allegations of sexual harassment.

While a source--I'd bet one connected to Forest City--called Stuckey "very competent" professionally, this might cause some reporters who trusted Stuckey to have some second thoughts about his overall character.

Maybe, for example, the New York Times's Nicholas Confessore and his editors recognize that it might not have been wise, in 2005, to unskeptically convey Stuckey's notorious assertion that "It's Orwellian, almost" to question the company's purported transparency regarding Atlantic Yards.

And it might remind them that Forest City Ratner was involved in some serious damage control, massaged by p.r. fixer Howard Rubenstein, when Stuckey resigned.

The Post's scoop

Today's article, an exclusive, took most of the second page in the New York Post, complete with the ambush photo of the subject looking grim while entering his house. The headline: Designs’ on women send city big packin’.

Well, Stuckey was an unpaid "big," but his position was the fulcrum for the story, and the Post deserves credit for tracking down sources it believed credible to flesh out the longstanding rumors about Stuckey:
The president of the city’s Public Design Commission abruptly quit late yesterday as The Post was preparing to reveal he had been ousted from his day job at NYU because of accusations he had sexually harassed women at the university.
James Stuckey, 57, an appointee of Mayor Bloomberg, held the unpaid post as president of the design commission since 2007, after three years as a member of the commission.
As of today, as the screenshot indicates, Stuckey's bio was still on the Design Commission's web site.

Stuckey's Twitter account, in which he jousted periodically against Atlantic Yards opponents, has since been erased.

Denial, and sources

Stuckey told the Post that he left the city position for health reasons, as stated when he left NYU, though, as commenters at the Real Deal (and a photo) suggested he was fine.

But the Post found sources--could they have been some at Forest City who notoriously clashed with Stuckey?--who piled on:
“This man should not be in a position of public trust and judgment,” said one former ranking city official with deep knowledge of Stuckey’s alleged history of harassing female subordinates. “He’s been doing this a very, very long time. There’s a pattern of this behavior. He’s a very competent guy, technically speaking. But his historical Achilles heel is this stuff.”
The NYU episode echoed Stuckey’s surprise exit four years [from FCR]...
Stuckey was ousted by the company’s CEO, Bruce Ratner, in early 2007 after a series of complaints had been made against him by female employees, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of what happened.
Ratner, sources told The Post, resisted the idea of getting rid of Stuckey until some of his top lieutenants threatened to quit after an ugly incident at a 2006 Christmas party.
According to company sources, Stuckey took all of his subordinates to a club and then called a number of women employees into a private room, where he had them sit on his lap as though he were Santa Claus.
Ratner connections got him a job

How did Stuckey get hired by NYU? Here's where it gets interesting. Bruce Ratner, a member of the Schack Institute’s advisory board, helped him get hired.

But, the Post reported that "company source said 'the reasons for his sudden departure were shared with potential employers, including NYU.'"

I'll bet someone at NYU is checking on whether those reasons were fully shared and if not, why not--and if so, how seriously was the episode assessed.

1 comment:

  1. So Pope Bruce, instead of banishing Father Stuckey or getting him treatment for his "health problem," used his influence to transfer him to the NYU diocese, where Father Stuckey would minister to hundreds of young coeds -- precisely the thing that got him in trouble in the first place.

    And thus, the question is -- who knew what, and when did they know it? The answer to that could hold the key as to just how liable NYU is, if and when Father Stuckey's victims decide to sue.

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