He Met Her at a Hardware Store. Then, 'Years of Deceit'

How Harvard prof Bruce Hay found himself in a paternity mess with 2 dubious women
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2019 10:04 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2019 6:54 AM CDT
He Met Her at a Hardware Store. Then, a 'Long, Punitive Game'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/AtnoYdur)

Harvard Law professor Bruce Hay, who once taught a class on "judgment and decision-making," had a chance encounter in a Massachusetts hardware store four years ago. It ended up getting him labeled as "the most gullible man in Cambridge" in Kera Bolonik's latest story for The Cut. The person Hay met that day in March 2015: 32-year-old Maria-Pia Shuman. She soon cajoled Hay, 20 years her senior and living with ex-wife Jennifer Zacks and their two young kids, into a sexual relationship with her and a friendship with Mischa Haider, a trans PhD student at Harvard. The triangle between the three soon got bizarre: Shuman became pregnant with what she said was Hay's child—unlikely, as Hay hadn't orgasmed during their sexual encounters due to antidepressants he was taking. Then the women started demanding he leave Zacks, threatened to "expose" Hay to Harvard for "rape," and even moved into his home while he and Zacks were out of town.

In May 2018, Haider filed a Title IX complaint against Hay for sexual harassment. Thanks to Zacks' suspicions and legal maneuvers, she and Hay were able to get the women out of their home and extricate Hay from the abusive relationship, which he now admits went on too long. They also discovered Shuman had history with at least three other men whose dealings with her had eerie similarities to Hay's, including paternity claims. Still, police tell Hay it would be hard to prove the women committed a crime, and Harvard has him barred from teaching until the sexual misconduct probe reveals its findings. Hay also hasn't yet been able to get a paternity test for his supposed son with Shuman—or determine a motive. Through their lawyer, Haider and Shuman call Hay's story "a fantastical tale that conjures stereotypes and nativist tropes to exact revenge." Hay, meanwhile, is trying to make sense of what Bolonik deems "years of deceit" after the women's "long, expensive, and punitive game." (Read the full story here.)

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