End harassment of a postdoctoral scientist by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)

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I am a victim of stalking, harassment, violation of my privacy, and civil rights violation by my former workplace Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) since at least November 2016 and still ongoing.

The nature of the harassment involve hiring/contracting people to persistently stalk me, harass me while driving or walking with gestures and signs, and harass, threaten, intimidate, coerce or influence with money or other favors of my family, friends, office and lab colleagues, and other professional colleagues. It also include contracting people to illegally tapping my cell phone, read my text messages, block or divert my calls and text messages, illegally hacking my official and personal email accounts, emails not delivered to intended recipients, email spoofing, caller ID spoofing pretending to be local, state or federal agency personnel to deceive or threaten my friends, colleagues, or public service providers (so that public service personnel will not provide intended service or lie to me or turn me away out of fear).

I have filed a complaint about this ongoing harassment with the Falmouth Police Department, MA on October 21, 2017 but I am yet to hear back from them, and also filed complaint with U.S. National Science Foundation (US NSF) in October 2017. The US NSF reviewed and have forwarded my complaint to US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Boston for investigation. But the harassment is still ongoing.

On a recent trip to Duluth Minnesota for Thanksgiving break and to see friends, I received a threatening text message stating "stop talking about us or we will come after you fully" after I narrated the ongoing harassment to my neighbors. I called 911 and subsequently filed for a Harassment Restraining Order at the District Court in Duluth, MN. A judge approved the Harassment Restraining Order against Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) who were sponsoring/contracting people to carry out this harassment. However, the harassment protection order continue to be violated. My internet activities, phone calls, texts and emails continue to be monitored illegally.

All of these started after I wrote a manuscript for publication and one of the senior scientists at the Institution (Dan Repeta) who I was working with did not want the manuscript to be published because the data contradicted (did not confirm as he had wanted) his earlier publication. After few months of delay by this senior scientist, I stopped working on the paper after speaking to the senior scientist Dan Repeta one-on-one when he made it very clear to me that he was against the publication of the paper by stating that "stop working on it". Which I did. However, my other supervisor Ann McNichol insisted that we have to finish and publish that paper because I already presented the work at a national conference, and also that her Institute NOSAMS was the one financing my work. So after few weeks of hesitation, I went back to work on the paper. The paper continued to be intentional delayed by the senior scientist - Dan Repeta. A host of senior personnel at the Institution including the department educational coordinator (Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink), the director of my research Institute - NOSAMS (Mark Kurz), and The Vice President for academic programs and the Dean (Jim Yoder) all met with and tried to convince the senior scientist in question (Dan Repeta) to allow the paper to be published but he was relentless and delayed the manuscript for close to a year. At this point, most of the senior scientific and administrative personnel at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) knew of the issue with the manuscript.

A Workplace Climate Survey was circulated in August 2016 for all employees at the Institution to fill out. The Vice President for Academic Programs and The Dean specifically sent the survey to me. I interpreted this to mean he wanted me to complete the survey. I completed the survey and stated in my response that the senior scientist was blocking the publication of the manuscript and that the issue with the manuscript had become torturous for me and my family. By September 2016, few weeks after the survey, the issue with the manuscript had become sensitive, divisive and corrosive at the Institution. 

Multiple meetings every week between myself and senior personnel at the Institution over the paper became a commonplace. Sometimes the senior personnel met without me to discuss the paper issue. My other supervisor Ann McNichol who had insisted and pressured me to keep working on the manuscript suddenly developed cold feet. But the director of NOSAMS (Mark Kurz) was now the one strongly encouraging me to work on with the manuscript, much to the displeasure of Ann.  Ann began to strongly push for me to leave the Institution in the middle of October 2016 when my contract at the time expire, but, the director strongly objected, and pushed to have my contract extended for another six months ending January 2017. Ann might have known what was about to happen to my family and wanted me out of the institution. Although I found out later that Dan Repeta nominated her for a big award at the Institution, which she later won. The prestigious award comes with a $50,000.00 in discretionary research grant.

During this period, several meetings and email exchanges occurred which are potentially damaging to the reputation of the senior scientist Dan Repeta and the Institution as a whole. Fearing I might sue the Institution or the scientist in question, and also fearing I might go public or to the media to report the what has occurred, a bizarre harassment campaign was started against me, and later my family. This included hiring/contracting people to persistently stalk me, harass me, harass, intimidate or coerce with money or other favors or threaten my family, friends, office and lab colleagues, other professional colleagues, illegally tap my cell phone, read my text messages, block or divert my calls and text messages, and block or divert my emails as described above. Ultimately, the goal was to destroy my family, career, isolate me from my friends and work colleagues and build a paper trail to falsely label me as mentally ill so that no one will believe my story.

At the initial stages of the harassment, I informed my supervisor Ann McNichol, the director of the Institute Mark Kurz, and The Vice President for Academic programs and The Dean Jim Yoder in December 2016 about the ongoing harassment including the illegal monitoring of my internet activities, wiretapping of my office and cell phone and hacking of my emails. I had wanted to leave the institution at the time but The Dean advised me to stay until I find another position in order not to create a gap in my career. He also advised me to move to a different building in the institution. Two days later after I complained, I received an email from the director Mark Kurz stating my contract had been extended for few more months. I understood this extension to mean that they took my complaint seriously and will work to end the harassment, so I accepted the contract extension and stayed at the Institution.

But, the harassment only became worse, my family and friendships were strained or destroyed through a campaign of stalking, coercion and threats, my Assistant Professor job applications were sabotaged with impunity and all these harassment continued even after I left the Institution and moved to a different state.

I recently showed some friends text messages I had sent to them and was confirmed as delivered. They stated that they never received the texts. I showed them my phone with the text. They showed me their phone and confirmed text messages were not received. Other friends and professor colleagues of mine have also noted never receiving my emails. I printed copies, and showed them original emails in my mail box but they never received the emails. In some instances, email spoofing occurred with people pretending to me my professor colleagues responding to the emails.

Paper trail have been carefully built to falsely label me as mentally ill. My wife was stalked and later manipulated to take me to the emergency room, and then made to file a fake police missing person (this report states that my Institution was contacted and they stated I had not been working there since December 2016 even though I was working there until May 2017); again, all these were deliberately designed to pretend I was mentally ill.  I am currently scheduled to appear in Family and Probate court in Barnstable MA for a baseless psychological evaluation motion scheduled for January 5, 2018 at 8.30 am. Please be there or have someone from your office be there.

I am hoping that by sharing my harassment story here you will all help to end the ongoing harassment and have this issue investigated so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice. Please share with your friends, law makers, Newspapers and local media. Together, we can end this harassment.

Thank you.

Dr. P.K. Zigah                                                                                                

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pzigah

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