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PERSONALITY IN THE NEWS : Witness John Doggett Is Called ‘Bright,’ ‘Pompous’

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Texas businessman John N. Doggett III, who strode into the spotlight of the Clarence Thomas controversy to allege that Anita Faye Hill “fantasized” about him, is a bright, self-assured professional, but also given to self-promotion and pomposity, those who know him said Monday.

The 43-year-old management consultant and part-time professor from Austin, Tex., thrust himself into the drama over Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination by accusing Hill of imagining that he was romantically interested in her.

Doggett’s allegations--strongly disputed by Hill--came first in a sworn statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Late Sunday, he gave the panel rambling, argumentative testimony attacking Hill’s credibility and stability.

During the hearing, allegations surfaced that Doggett himself had engaged in sexual harassment in the workplace--which he strongly denied. The panel’s Democratic chairman, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., suggested that Doggett’s ego may have tainted his conclusions and added that Doggett’s “judgment about women is not so hot.”

Doggett’s testimony dominated the closing hours of the weekend hearings. It included an emotional eruption when Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) questioned him about unsworn allegations that Doggett had harassed a 19-year-old woman while on the job. In the end, he got an apology from Biden, who said there was no evidence that Doggett had done anything wrong.

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As he testified, Doggett offered a detailed description of his own background, recounted seemingly irrelevant conversations with strangers and dwelt on the risks he took and the damage he was suffering by stepping forward.

At times, as one questioner noted, he appeared to be psychoanalyzing Hill and that he concluded she had sexual fantasies based on one brief exchange at a party.

“John came across the way he is,” said Chicago consultant James Lowry, who has known Doggett professionally for more than 10 years. “It bordered on cocky, some people would say pompous. That’s the way he is privately and publicly.

“John thinks he’s got a lot to say,” said Lowry, who has been active with Doggett in Harvard Business School alumni activities and who once hired Doggett to work on a project. “There are very few subjects John can’t talk about and won’t talk about, expansively.”

Arthur Margolis, a Los Angeles attorney who worked with Doggett at the California Bar Assn. in the 1970s, said: “His ego tends to overpower his judgment.” Margolis said that he could not recall any specific examples.

Doggett could not be reached for comment, but his defenders and relatives said that he strongly believes what he says, although he can come across as strong-willed and arrogant because of his commitment to causes.

“I’m sure he was convinced of the things he spoke of,” said Doggett’s 73-year-old father, John Nelson Doggett Jr. of St. Louis.

He said his son was “not being an egotist” in his lengthy testimony about himself, but merely trying to show that African-American males “should not be stereotyped.”

Doggett was a Democrat and civil rights activist who switched to the Republican Party after moving to Texas.

The son of a preacher, he was born in San Francisco and attended Los Angeles city schools. In the 1960s, he went on to Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., where he majored in political science and helped found the Black Student Union.

A classmate of Thomas, Doggett was graduated from Yale Law School and in the late 1970s headed the California State Bar Assn.'s legal services department, which oversees legal services for the poor.

Robert Harris, former president of the National Bar Assn. in 1979, said he dealt with Doggett and recalled he was “bright . . . energetic.”

He returned to the Harvard Business School for a master’s degree in business before joining the Washington, D.C., consulting firm of McKinsey & Co.

A specialist in international business consulting, he helped advise overseas firms and helped establish companies in Third World countries. He left McKinsey to form his own firm and in 1989 relocated to Texas, when his wife took an assignment working for Rob Mosbacher in the state Human Services Department. Mosbacher is the son of U.S. Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher.

In Austin, Doggett formed International Management Development Center and landed a job teaching a graduate course in “global marketing” at the University of Texas at Austin’s Graduate School of Business.

Business associates and colleagues at the business school regard Doggett as a tough teacher and an aggressive businessman with a confrontational style that can rub some people the wrong way.

“John is not going to get ahead by being a shrinking violet and he knows that,” said Timothy Ruefli, a former chairman of the university’s Graduate School of Business’ Management Department who hired Doggett in 1989. “His class is incredibly popular with students--despite his reputation for being tough in the classroom and a hard grader.”

Staff writers Melissa Healy in Washington and Richard Simon in Los Angeles contributed to this story.


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