George Washington University officials -- including the provost, the dean of the engineering school and a department chairman--were told in July 1981 that Paul Arthur Crafton, the GW professor now being held on forgery and other charges in Pennsylvania, was using false identities.
University officials decided not to investigate the validity of the allegations on the ground that it was Crafton's personal business. "We don't monitor the private lives of our faculty," said university provost Harold Bright.
Yesterday authorities in Pennsylvania identified Crafton, 59, a George Washington faculty member since 1956, as the "John Doe" arrested Monday and charged with using false credentials and bogus names in establishing false identities in a number of states. At the time of his arrest Crafton was teaching simultaneously at three colleges, authorities said.
The allegations about Crafton were given to university officials by Saundra Hardbower, 40, a legal secretary from Bethesda, who met with Sam Rothman, chairman of the department of engineering, and another engineering professor, after she came to believe the suave British banker she met after he answered her personals ad in Washingtonian magazine was Crafton.
Hardbower, who said she was miffed when her brief relationship with the man she knew as Peter DeWitt Connaught ended without warning, told university officials that the man who had represented himself to her as an international banker was actually Crafton.
Details of the link between Connaught and Crafton, and Crafton's use of the name "Arthur Holland" were given to Hardbower, she said, by a private investigator she hired after Connaught broke off contact with her. "I don't like men who prey on lonely women," she said. "I was angry.
Harold Liebowitz, dean of the school of engineering and applied science, said he met several times with Rothman and Bright in Bright's office to discuss the allegations presented by Hardbower. "At that time, we didn't think it affected his performance," Liebowitz said yesterday. "Of course, our hindsight casts some other light on it."
Bright said that on Thursday he provided Pennsylvania police with a copy of a memo about the meeting with Hardbower.
Pennsylvania authorities said Crafton's identity was confirmed through an analysis of fingerprints taken of the suspect in 1944 for "noncriminal purposes" and through his 1968 passport.
New criminal charges of forgery, theft by deception and tampering with public records were filed yesterday against Crafton in connection with his job teaching economics at Millersville State College in Millersville, Pa., where college officials said he was teaching under the name Peter Pearse. An additional bond of $150,000 was imposed on him by a district justice in Lancaster County. Crafton was transferred to the county jail in Lancaster yesterday from Cumberland County Jail in Carlisle, Pa. A preliminary hearing in the matter is scheduled for March 31 in Millersville.
Identical charges were filed Monday in connection with Crafton's employment at Shippensburg State College, where officials said he was using the name John Byron Hext.
In response to questions about whether Crafton held various jobs in order to finance operations for his 17-year-old daughter, Laura Melanie, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy, Pennsylvania Attorney General LeRoy S. Zimmerman said yesterday, "What his motives were, I don't know."
Additional aliases Crafton allegedly used also were released yesterday, bringing the total to 33. Authorities also said Crafton either applied for work or was employed at many more colleges than was previously known, including several in Virginia.
One of those who said she was taken in by Crafton was Hardbower. She first met him for coffee at the Watergate Hotel after he answered her ad in the May 1981 issue of Washingtonian magazine. He was using the name Connaught, she said.
"He was very articulate, with a slight British accent," she said. "Very nice. I had gotten my hopes up about him."
Before the third date, she said, Connaught telephoned her and said he had to leave immediately for London. "I was suspicious. I asked him to send me a postcard, just to see if he went there, but he never did."
She then hired a private investigator to find out more about him.
Bob Miller, 43, president of Prudential Associates in Potomac, said he traced the Baltimore post office box on Connaught's business card to a Rockville warehouse leased to Paul A. Crafton. The telephone on the business card was listed to Arthur Holland at a condominium in Baltimore, but a remote call forwarding unit transferred the calls to a Rockville condominium that property records showed Crafton bought in 1976, Miller said.
Miller said he dropped the inquiry after supplying his client with the address and telephone number of Crafton's Potomac residence. "You don't bother to pursue it, even though the facts add up to confusion," he said. "The guy could have been undercover, CIA, in the federal witness protection program."
Hardbower, who said Connaught told her his wife and child died in a car accident and were buried in Paris, said she went to Crafton's home and confronted Crafton, but he denied knowing her.
Another woman, Saundra Moore, 35, the manager of a condominium in Georgetown, said yesterday that a man calling himself Connaught answered her "In Search Of" ad in Washingtonian magazine and told her "that he and his family owned a chain of banks that ran from Canada to England.
"He was outrageously charming," she said. "Even the line of bull he gives is elegant. It's so wonderful you have to believe it. There was not one hint of deception."
Moore did not see Connaught, who she said she now recognizes as a bearded Crafton, after their dinner at a French restaurant in early 1981.
Several years before Harbower took her allegations to university offiicials, Crafton's colleagues voted him out as chairman of the engineering administration department, according to university spokesman Barry Jagoda.
"There was dissatisfaction with him even before the vote," said Liebowitz, who described Crafton as a loner. "He was not available. It was very hard to interact with him socially.