National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue yesterday named Harvard Law School professor Philip Heymann as special counsel in charge of investigating the alleged sexual harassment of Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson by several New England Patriots players, and the team's handling of her complaint.
Also, it appeared that Patriots General Manager Patrick Sullivan was remaining in charge of the club's day-to-day operations despite owner Victor Kiam's Sunday appointment of Bob Romano as vice president in charge of finance.
Romano, a vice president with Kiam's Remington Products Inc., helped arrange Kiam's acquisition of the Patriots in 1988 and has been involved with the club's financial matters. Kiam said he intended to suspend Sullivan pending the outcome of the league's investigation, but Tagliabue prevailed upon him to take no action until the investigation is completed.
Romano said through club spokesman Jim Oldham that although he now has a title with the Patriots, he "basically has the same responsibilities as I had in the past." Sullivan declined to comment. Kiam could not be reached for comment.
Heymann, 57, has been director of the Harvard Law School Center for Criminal Justice since 1981. He headed the Justice Department's criminal division from 1978 to 1981, during which time it dealt with the Abscam investigation. He also served as Watergate associate special prosecutor.
Tagliabue said in a statement released by the NFL that Heymann (pronounced Hy-man) will work "in an independent fashion, conduct his interviews in a confidential and private manner and report directly to me."
Heymann said in the statement he has been "assured" by Tagliabue that "all NFL personnel will cooperate" with his investigation. He added, "I expect that other involved parties will do the same in order to conclude this matter as quickly and thoroughly as possible."
John Dowd, the Washington attorney who served as Major League Baseball's special counsel during its investigations of Pete Rose and George Steinbrenner, worked for Heymann at the Justice Department and was his adversary during the department's probe of former Sen. Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.).
"Phil is a good man, an honest man," Dowd said. "Very thoughtful. He will do what is the right thing to do and will do what the facts dictate."
Kiam, who placed full-page advertisements in Sunday's Boston Globe and New York Times, placed the same ad in yesterday's Boston Herald. It said "There's no excuse for what happened in the locker room." But it also said, "I never called Lisa Olson a b---h."
After the incident received national attention, Kiam was reported to have referred to Olson as a "classic bitch" in the locker room after a game. Kiam denied he used those words, and the ads quoted two officials of Harding University and one of Florida State who say they stood next to Kiam and did not hear him use those words about Olson.
But Herald publisher Patrick Purcell ran a statement opposite Kiam's ad that read in part: "We are forced to take issue with his guests' version of his postgame remark."