Really long background - pull up a chair, get yourself a drink, settle in:
In my hobby club, there is a person in a nearby city I'm calling Jen. Here's a previous thread on her: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=113973.msg2651579#msg2651579
Her behavior has continued in the same vein, and even gotten worse. My interactions with her have been sometimes difficult, as I try to avoid being a doormat, but we have gotten through several months of working together on various projects. I am better at saying "No," and not letting her manipulate me into doing her work.
However. On other fronts, things have gotten much worse. She has engaged in intellectual dishonesty, where she has tried to present work and research as her own rather than others' in the club or on the internet (and really, it's OK to use others' research, just admit it!). She has organized activities out in her area and then not actually held them, leading to new people arriving at a venue only to find it dark and unopen. She's said things to people in far-flung parts of the club, telling them that the people in her area are all mean and awful. She has deliberately stirred the pot to try to sabotage a new sub-group that a bunch of us hobbyists are trying to start.
I have someone I am mentoring who lives in Jen's area - I will call him Tomas. He is one of the people who has been burned by her promising to do something, manipulating others into actually doing the work, then taking the credit. Over the last year and 1/2, the relations between Tomas and Jen have deteriorated. He started to resist her manipulations and she would push. She began slinging insults at him, sometimes under the guise of a "joke" or followed by a half-hearted apology. One incident, she angrily and mockingly called him a womanizer and a Don Juan in front of his new girlfriend (note: she and Tomas never have had any interest in each other, they each run to different types). She sort of apologized later for it, and he tried to move on. Another incident, a couple of weeks later, she had organized an activity at one of our events, and was pressuring folks to take part. Tomas, and another of my students, Sandy, did not want to take part, as the activity involved being discourteous to others (it was actually a competition to insult your opponent. Yes, really.), and additionally, they each had had issues with Jen and were trying to minimize their interactions. She pressured them and pressured them and they said No many times. Finally she stood in the main area and said something like, "OK, I see you're both too..." and she mockingly put her hands together as if praying and bowed over them, "...pious to help me out." Both Tomas and Sandy were offended. Sandy actually is a very religious person, which Jen had to know since she speaks of her religion very openly. Tomas is not so religious, but finds the mockery of it very offensive. They cooled their interactions with Jen even more for the rest of the day.
For some time after that day, Jen would contact Tomas as if everything was great, what were they doing next, etc.? He tried to answer her in monosyllables and to deny all requests for favors. She escalated to posting to a public group they are both on, trying to force his hand. So he sent her a private email saying, essentially, that he needs her to know that he is no longer interested in a friendship with her, that their goals are too far apart, and that it's best if she just lets it go. She responded in a tizzy, pressuring him to tell her what she had done wrong, using every manipulative technique possible (flattery of him and his friends, attacks on his own behavior "You've been cold to me," threats of "problems in the local group" if this wasn't solved, and so on) to get him to write back to her. And, unfortunately he did. He responded in detail about some of the things she had said and done for the last year and half, and how he had accepted sort-of apologies time and again and tried to chalk her issues up to inexperience and insecurity. But that the last few weeks had shown that her apologies were hollow, that this was a pattern she was likely to continue again and again, and he just doesn't want to be around that. He wasn't saying he can't be cordial when necessary, but rather that she needs to know they are not friends and she should not ask him for favors. In his letter, which I have seen, he told her these unhappy truths very bluntly, but he was not rude (IMO). And it was a private correspondence (at the time).
She immediately began complaining to any who would hear her that Tomas has been horrible to her. She showed people his email without showing them the buildup or of course mentioning the many incidents previous. In the sub-group we are trying to start, Tomas is one of the main forces for starting this, putting in many hours. Jen interrupted one of our meetings about the subgroup to tell us that she can't be part of the group if we allow someone so aggressive to be part of it. She took actions to stir up trouble for the subgroup in general, feeding inflammatory misinformation about discussions at the meetings to people who weren't there. She has pressured me to promise that I will make Tomas apologize, that he has to realize that she is sensitive, and he can't talk to her like that. She takes no responsibility for her actions, and actually somehow manages to ignore it when they are brought up.
Jen may not know this, but the things she has been saying about Tomas have already had a severe effect, in that she's told important people in the club these warped untruths, and they now believe he is unkind and cruel. His prospects have been affected, perhaps permanently.
Because we are loath to let this continue unabated, a local leader for Jen's group and I, and Tomas, have agreed to have a meeting with Jen and her mentor (who lives several hours away). Initially it was set up to be all of us, then Jen tried to say, no, it could just be her and Tomas, but I was unwilling to have Tomas meet with her in a way that would not be witnessed by me, since I know that eventually what would happen is that she would spread mistruths about what he said during that meeting and I wouldn't be able to refute it if I wasn't there. So now, it's back to a big meeting with at least five people. Oy.
Truthfully, I think they should just exchange pro forma apologies and agree to move in separate circles, being polite when necessary. This Tomas is willing to do. I am not certain that Jen will be willing to apologize in any meaningful way, and I think she will want to press that he was the one in the wrong and she is the victim. I am not willing to have him take all the blame as if he has majorly misstepped when I believe that is not the case. I would prefer that this meeting not become a hashing-out of all sorts of past behavior but I can easily see it happening.
I do intend to speak privately with Jen's mentor, discussing primarily the problems with Jen's intellectual dishonesty, inability to take No for an answer, and the problems she is trying to stir up in the new sub-group. Jen's mentor is a good person and already knows that this is a difficult situation. I'm hopeful we will have meaningful discussion.
I know you folks are only getting my take on this situation, which is obviously biased. But can you tell me, do you feel Tomas was justified in saying he doesn't want to have a friendship with her, after her repeated patterns of behavior? Does he owe her a major apology for saying things so bluntly? We want to do what we can to extricate ourselves out of the situation as best as possible. And, as someone who still has to work with Jen for the next 6 months, and as someone with some standing in Jen's chosen art, I want to manage things well enough so that Jen's continued presence in the hobby club is not detrimental to the club. And truthfully, if Jen could be made to see the error of her ways, she is a talented artisan and would be an asset. But I'm not holding my breath.
Opinions and advice welcome.