June 20, 2018 / 12:40 AM / 6 months ago

Ex-TCW fund manager ordered to turn over texts in harassment lawsuit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York State judge on Tuesday ordered a former TCW Group Inc fund manager to hand over text messages sent to her friend around the same time that she had messaged about an alleged sexual encounter with her boss.

Fund manager Sara Tirschwell filed a $30 million lawsuit earlier this year claiming TCW terminated her in retaliation for complaining that her boss, TCW head of alternative products Jess Ravich, coerced her into having sex.

Attorneys for TCW and Ravich said on Tuesday that they believe a text message Tirschwell sent to her friend about having sex with Ravich in May 2016 was fabricated, an allegation representatives for Tirschwell deny.

“It came out of nowhere,” said Robert Sacks, an attorney for Ravich, about the text message. Ravich, who had a prior relationship with Tirschwell, has denied having sex with her while she was at TCW.

TCW declined to comment.

The New York judge ordered Tirschwell to turn over an entire string of messages from the conversation for one month before and one month after she sent the text on the alleged encounter.

Attorneys for Ravich, TCW and Tirschwell have been ensnared in disputes about documents produced for a potential trial on the lawsuit, leading to the court conference on Tuesday.

Tirschwell has already turned over some messages and her attorneys said they have provided data verifying the authenticity of the texts, but Ravich and TCW’s attorneys said they do not believe she provided all of them or their context.

“We are happy to provide these texts in the spirit of full transparency,” a spokesperson for Tirschwell said.

The judge also granted permission to Tirschwell’s attorneys to question under oath three TCW board members, including a managing director from private equity firm Carlyle Group, which partly owns the asset manager.

Carlyle did not immediately reply to an email from Reuters seeking comment outside regular business hours.

Attorneys for Tirschwell have said in court papers that Ravich has produced few documents, claiming that he said he deletes texts and emails that no longer require a response.

The distressed fund Tirschwell had managed at TCW has now been fully liquidated, TCW said.

TCW fired Tirschwell in December, nine days after she complained about Ravich. TCW said she was fired because she had violated the firm’s conflict of interest rules, denying it committed gender-based discrimination or harassment.

Tirschwell had not raised required funding from investors for the fund and the firm had said it determined in November, before she complained about harassment, that it would not renew her contract.

Dozens of men have been ousted from jobs in politics, entertainment and business after facing accusations of sexual misconduct, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and broadcaster Charlie Rose.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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