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Haddad admits ‘poor judgment’ after being accused of sending


By Rita Savard


GROTON — Town officials planned to answer questions and concerns today surrounding a Groton woman’s complaints alleging that Town Manager Mark Haddad sent her “inappropriate” messages over the phone and over the Internet.

After meeting in two executive sessions over the weekend to review transcripts of instant messages and email conversations provided by the woman, the Board of Selectmen unanimously determined that “while some of the conversations were distasteful, they did not reveal any violation of any laws or town bylaws,” according to a prepared statement released Monday.

The board agrees the correspondence was consensual dialogue between two people.

Selectmen declined to comment in detail on the issue yesterday, saying they would openly address questions about the incident at a public press conference scheduled for today at 1 p.m., at Town Hall.

The woman, a 41-year-old Groton resident, brought her complaint against Haddad to one selectman in early November. She stated that the town manager’s correspondence with her had an “inappropriate” tone, and included the promise of town services provided to her by Haddad that would not be available to other residents, according to the board.

The woman, who declined to be named for privacy reasons, said Monday that Haddad had contacted her first, following a comment she had posted on the town’s public list serve, an email blast available to residents for discussing town issues.

She did not reveal any specifics of her conversations with Haddad, adding that she was “too scared” to talk in detail about the incident. But she said the Board of Selectmen failed to respond appropriately.

After the woman’s initial complaint in November, the remaining four selectmen only became aware of the situation during the last two days of November.

After combing through transcripts of emails and instant messages provided by the woman, the board said it found the correspondence had been going on for a number of months and that she could have broken it off at any time “but instead chose to encourage it, continue it and preserve it.”

Other than two brief, chance encounters at public events, the interaction between Haddad and the woman existed solely through the Internet, and only printed words were exchanged, the board said.

The woman said that was inaccurate, alleging that she also received inappropriate phone calls and text messages from the town manager.

Haddad, who did not return phone calls seeking comment, met with each selectman individually. Selectmen said “he was very contrite and admitted that he had exercised poor judgment” but also insisted no rules had been broken.

Each selectman read through the dialogue provided by the woman, and all agreed there was no threat.

The board stressed that Haddad used his personal computer for the communication and no town resources were used. The board plans to continue its investigation.

“We completely agree with the town manager’s assessment of his own conduct; he exercised extremely poor judgment,” the board said. “Although the manager’s conduct in his private affairs is his own business, the board is mindful that such conduct does not reflect well on the town and could affect job performance.”

There was no mention of the issue at last night’s selectmen’s meeting and Haddad and Chairman Anna Eliot declined comment afterward.

In 2004, Haddad resigned from his job as town manager of Cohasset under a cloud of sexual-harassment allegations. Two female employees who had accused Haddad of sexual harassment received settlements of $70,000 each. The investigation also involved members of the Cohasset Police Department.

Haddad said he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Cohasset case.

In 2007, he resigned from his duties as chief administrative officer in Stratford, Conn., after the Cohasset allegations resurfaced. Haddad has said that was a result of political infighting.

Groton selectmen have said they gave no weight to any of the allegations in Haddad’s past and appointed him as the first town manager in 2008 based on his stellar skills and experience.