School Sex Scandal Is One for the Ages

Three-way affair at Stanford University gets very messy
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2015 6:00 PM CDT
School Sex Scandal Is One for the Ages
New York Stock Exchange CEO Duncan Niederauer, center with hat, and Garth Saloner, ring the closing NYSE bell with Stanford students in Palo Alto, Calif., Dec. 2, 2010.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

A love triangle at the Stanford Graduate School of Business has forced the school's dean to resign and led to an ugly battle between all involved, Vanity Fair reports. James Phills and Deborah Gruenfeld were professors there three years ago, locked in an estranged marriage, when Phills learned she was dating the school's dean. Phills says he could have let it go until he came to believe that the dean, Garth Saloner, was trying to drive Phills out of Stanford. Things got messier when Phills began monitoring electronic chit-chat between the love birds, including allegedly salacious exchanges and advice from Saloner on how she could battle her husband. Now Phills has sued Saloner and Stanford for an unspecified amount, Saloner and Stanford have countersued, Phills has been fired, and Saloner (who called Phills a "sociopath" and a "dick") has quit his post as dean of perhaps the nation's top business school.

Complicating matters is the fact that Phills—whose lawsuit includes accusations of racial discrimination—is black, while Saloner and Gruenfeld are white. And in their chats, Gruenfeld talked about keeping Phills in a cage while Saloner "relished seeing him in an orange jumpsuit in prison," notes Vanity Fair. Gruenfeld apparently feared for her safety, placed a restraining order on Phills (a former Harvard wrestler) in 2013 and retaining primary custody of their two daughters in an ongoing divorce. With Stanford now tarnished in the public eye, Phills, 55, is making over $1 million teaching at Apple University while Gruenfeld, 54, remains a Stanford star who gives $25,000 speeches on how to act "with power" in business. But Saloner? "This is going to destroy him," says one of his loyalists at Stanford. "I don't quite know how he recovers from this." (Billy Graham's grandson also resigned in the wake of a sex scandal.)

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