Pharma Bigwig Facing Harasssment Claims

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) — A sexual harassment case filed in Federal Court this week paints a picture of a tawdry odyssey of international business, Viagra-fueled sex marathons, paternity tests, clinical depression and the manner in which men use power to feed their sexual appetites.
     Shuang Zhang sued pharmaceutical magnate William Parfet in Federal Court on Monday, claiming he used his position as CEO at MPI Research to demand sex, fathered two children with her whom he refused to support and then fired her after wouldn’t give in to his sexual demands any longer.
     “Defendant Parfet demanded sex under the threat that plaintiff Zhang would suffer adverse consequences, including termination, if she did not give into his demands,” Zhang says in her complaint. “Further, defendant Parfet promised to help support their two children in exchange for continued sexual relations. However, defendant Parfet refused to publicly acknowledge their children and he also refused to provide any financial or emotional support.”
     William Parfet is the founder and CEO of MPI Research, Inc. a clinical research organization that performs various research services including investigating drug safety, the efficacy of medical equipment and other aspects of health care.
     According to the complaint, MPI Research employs 1,300, generates around $200 million in revenue annually and is considered to be the largest pre-clinical research organization in the market. The company is not a party to the complaint.
     Parfet, who started in the pharmaceutical industry working for Upjohn, since merged with Pfizer, is also a member of the board for Fortune 500 companies Monsanto, Stryker Corp. and Taubman Center Inc.
     Zhang, a Chinese national, came to the United States to go to college. She earned her MBA at the University of West Florida, according to the complaint.
     In 2002, Zhang moved to the Bay Area with her future husband and has since primarily worked in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. She says one of her main niches in the market is serving as a liaison between the industries in China and the United States, arranging business trips, connecting contacts and investors and performing cross-cultural work for the two nations as their economies vie for growth.
     In this capacity, Zhang first met Parfet at a January 2005 business meeting in Southeast China.
     “Parfet later confessed to plaintiff that he was interested in her since the moment he saw plaintiff in her traditional Chinese dress walking down the stairs at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, China,” Zhang says in her complaint.
     Soon after, Parfet enlisted Zhang as his independent business consultant as MPI explored the opportunity to set up a joint venture in China. According to the complaint, Zhang, who suffered from clinical depression as a result of sexual abuse, her military training in China and other trauma, was intimidated by Parfet because of his “authority, reputation and power.”
     The pair worked together until Zhang took an executive position at another biotech company. They met again at a health care conference in late 2007 and Zhang talked to Parfet about a potential business alliance between her company and his.
     When Parfet visited China to discuss the alliance in February 2008, Parfet invited Zhang to his hotel room to discuss the potential collaboration. Parfet then began making sexual advances, kissing her and the like, Zhang says in the complaint.
     “Plaintiff did not reciprocate because she was overcome by shock, fear and helplessness,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff was repulsed because he was bald, overweight with a protruding belly, and 27 years her senior.”
     Parfet then forced Zhang to perform oral sex, Zhang says in her complaint.
     The incident initiated a nearly 6-year odyssey, during which Zhang says Parfet took Viagra and became insatiable, demanding sex day and night, and was dismissive of Zhang’s growing depression as a result of the relationship.
     In July 2008, Parfet offered Zhang a job at MPI — and Zhang felt powerless to end the relationship, according to the complaint.
     “Given the fact that Parfet was offering her a job, in addition to plaintiff’s severe depression, she felt it was futile to resist Parfet’s demands for sex,” Zhang says in her complaint.
     In October, Zhang says she first learned she was pregnant — a surprise because she had previously though she was infertile. Parfet soon pressured Zhang to get an abortion, but she refused to do so after hearing the baby’s heartbeat at the first ultrasound, according to her complaint.
     However, she says that Parfet called later and said he supported her decision to keep the child.
     In 2009, Zhang was fired four months after giving birth to her first child. Parfet and Zhang parted for a couple of years and Zhang worked at another Chinese biotech firm, Zhang says in her complaint.
     But she says she reconnected with Parfet in 2010, when she was tasked with recruiting new investors for the company. Parfet began demanding sex again in 2011 and once again Zhang became pregnant, according to the complaint.
     In 2012, Zhang gave birth to her second child. She says she began attending regular therapy sessions for clinical depression treatment and participated in a post-traumatic stress disorder study conducted by Stanford University.
     In 2013, Zhang briefly returned to China at her parents’ insistence and then eventually took another job with MPI. During business meetings in Shanghai, Parfet — once again Zhang’s employer — repeatedly demanded sex at the hotel where they were staying in separate rooms, Zhang says in her complaint.
     By 2014, Zhang began demanding child support, took a paternity test which proved Parfet was indeed the father of both of her children and met with Parfet on two occasions, refusing his sexual advances both times.
     She says she was fired in September 2014, soon after meeting with Parfet for the final time. Zhang requested child support in February 2015, but Parfet refused, the complaint says.
     Zhang is suing for sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and failure to prevent harassment and discrimination.
     She is represented by Lawrance Bohm of Sacramento, California.
     Phone calls and emails to MPI Research seeking comment from Parfet were not returned as of press time.

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