Harvard Law professor Bruce Hay’s nightmare began on March 7, 2015 — though at the time he had no idea what he was in for.
In a lengthy but captivating article for New York Magazine’s The Cut, Kera Bolonik exhaustingly detailed Hay’s ordeal back in late July. She reported that Hay had met a woman named Maria-Pia Shuman in a hardware store. Shuman, who had a French accent, told Hay he was attractive and the two struck up a friendship that eventually led to sex. Weeks later, Shuman claimed she was pregnant with Hay’s baby.
The two continued their friendship and Hay became friends with Shuman’s friend, Mischa Haider, a trans woman with mental health issues. Hay was legally divorced from his wife, Jennifer Zacks, but lived with her and their children.
The baby was born in January 2016, but Hay wasn’t allowed to be present during the delivery. Shuman and Haider had been harassing Hay to leave his ex-wife for some time by that point. The harassment escalated. They claimed, according to The Cut, that Hay’s refusal to leave his ex-wife amounted to abuse. Shuman claimed he was “exploiting and manipulating” Haider and that “there should be criminal legal and administrative consequences for your behavior.” They threatened to report him for “raping” Shuman. Haider claimed they would file a complaint with Harvard over his alleged behavior and would accuse him of attempting to “extort” Shuman “for 1 million dollars.”
Hay tried to defuse the situation, but the women continued to escalate it. Eventually, the pair invited Hay to Paris for Bastille Day weekend and even gave him a check for $3,000 for his expenses. Shuman also said she had a surprise for him and needed his computer password, which he handed over since he had provided her with his passwords previously. Shuman told The Cut she never had Hay’s passwords.
At the same time, Hay was helping Shuman and Haider move. The three went to Quebec instead of Paris while the move was to take place. When they returned, all the belongings had been moved out of Hay’s house and the belongings of Shuman and Haider replaced them. Shuman had allegedly used Hay’s password to send emails agreeing to a lease of his home to her and Haider. Hay had signed what he believed were documents for storage units on Shuman’s behalf. Now they had a lease agreement with him and said the $3,000 check was a security deposit.
Hay and his ex-wife went to court and got their house back. Shuman and Haider then filed restraining orders against Hay — which were denied — and sue him for fraud over the house lease, since Hay’s name was no longer on the deed. Haider also filed a formal complaint with Harvard. He has been suspended from teaching while the investigation takes place.
In The Cut’s initial article, three other men had their encounters and legal battles with Shuman and Haider detailed — “Richard Roe,” “John Poe,” and “John Doe.” All three had similar stories. Each had sex with Shuman and told they were the father of her baby, even though the chances were nearly impossible (the men either wore a condom, didn’t ejaculate, or both). The other men had hired lawyers far earlier than Hay and were able to get Shuman and Haider off their backs.
Now, The Cut has published a follow-up story, speaking to six more men who had encounters with a woman believed to be Shuman. One man said the French woman approached them while he was moving into a new apartment with the help of his friend. The woman just walked up to them and propositioned them for sex. The men declined and she got into the back seat of a black car believed to be driven by Haider. Another man said he met Shuman after she approached him in a Starbucks and told him he was attractive. The two planned to meet, but she changed the plans and asked him to pretend to be the father of her child while relatives visited. He declined but she kept contacting him and chastised him for not “politely” declining her ruse. Months later she asked him for sex.
Another man said Shuman approached him, told him he was attractive, and implied they should have sex. When he and his friends were discussing the encounter, another friend arrived and said the same thing had happened to him just a few days earlier. The men called her to confront her but she yelled and hung up. Moments later, she sent one of them a friend request on Facebook, even though he didn’t tell her his name. Another person then called them, who the men believe was Haider. The person berated them and called them “misogynistic pigs” and “pieces-of-shit men.” It was a common theme from Haider and Shuman, who had railed against the patriarchy to Hay.
A friend of Shuman’s contacted The Cut to say Shuman actually had an English accent, though she was half-French (on her mother’s side). She said Shuman abandoned her friends after meeting Haider and the two seemed to enjoy picking up men and discarding them.
“I remember she said, ‘I love corrupting these really Waspy Bostonian guys.’ The impression I got was, if she picked up a guy, told him he was really hot, went back and slept with him and then discarded him, she felt like, ‘I’m in control, I’m so powerful, I used him, I tossed him aside,’” the friend told The Cut. “She liked the idea of corrupting what looked like these innocent, nice guys.”