The Last Tycoon

Walter Shorenstein's skyscrapers shaped San Francisco. His cash configured City Hall. Publicly, he's pristine. But there's more than meets the eye to the man behind the megaliths.

Nancy Novack claims in a deposition and documents on file at the San Francisco Superior Court that while she was employed at the Shorenstein Company, she received money from Walter Shorenstein for her son'e college education and to help her son recover from a violent sexual assault.

In total, the amount of money paid was $12,000, she said: $5,000 for her son's education, $7,000 for the aftermath of the assault.

Nancy Novack was deposed for seven days by Bob Lieber. Novack's attorney at the deposition was Barbara Lawless. Walter Shorenstein was not deposed, and there is no public account of his version of events, except press reports at the time, containing his denials. According to available deposition transcripts, this is what Novack says happened:

Attorney Lieber: Did you have any other dialogue with Mr. Shorenstein on these occasions about the loan, about other matters in association with the loan?

Novack: He would come back and he would hand me the check and I would say "thank you." And then he would say, "you don't show very much appreciation. I expect more appreciation than that."

Attorney Lieber: Yes? Then what did you do?
Novack: And what did I do? I said, "thank you very much," and I tried to leave the room and. This would set up a predictable sequence of evetns of him trying to grab me and fondle me.

Attorney Lieber: How would he try to grab you?
Novack: We would probably both be standing. I mean, the scenario is the same each time. We would both be standing. He would take his glasses off, put them down on the desk. He would hand me the check. I would say, "thank you very much. Steve and I appreciate this. I understand how this is set up." And I would start to leave the room and he would say, "you're not showing very much appreciation for what I'm doing. Come here. Can't you come here and show me some appreciation?

And I would say, you know, that I said, "I appreciate it" or something like that - and try to kiss me. And I would say, "Okay, okay," and start to push him away. And he would grab my breast. And I would say, "okay, that's enough. Please stop." And he would grab my hand and put it on his penis and I would say, "Okay, I have got to get out of here. I don't want this in my life. Please let me go." And I would try to get out of there as fast as I can.

And different times it was different, but usually he would block the door so I couldn't get out and stand in front of the door. He would push me up against the wall. Sometimes he would try to put his hand up my blouse or up my sweater. At other times he tried to put his hands up my skirt. He grabbed my hand and tried to make me rub his penis. I would get upset. Sometimes I cried. I begged him to stop this. That is was very unacceptable to me and not okay in my life. And I sometimes would run out the other door. Sometimes I would run out the regular door.

Attorney Lieber: On how many occasions did this occur between the fall of 1985 and the summer of 1991?

Attorney Lawless: I have to object there. Are you taling about the sexual touching or are you talking about the money-related transaction? Just so we're clear.

Attorney Lieber: The combination of the money-related transaction and the sexual touching.

Novack: The sexual touching would happen not only related to money. It would happen very predictably. Whenever I asked for anything from a day off, from a vacation, from late Friday afternoons when he wanted me to stay late and work and I didn't want to and anyone else had left the office, and Stan Berger and other people had left it would happen.


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