Abuse story thrusts former Lake Oswego resident into the spotlight
Former Lake Oswego resident Traci Williams says it has been surreal to find herself at the heart of widespread media attention this week following the publication of a story detailing domestic abuse allegations involving her ex-husband.
The New York Times reported on March 28 that Morgan Stanley took no action against Douglas E. Greenberg, who was one of the company's most successful wealth management employees, despite allegations of abuse and restraining orders filed against him by Williams and three other Lake Oswego women over a period of 15 years.
Williams told The Review that she was inundated with media calls once the Times story broke. Seeing the story take off in the era of the Me Too movement has been gratifying, she said, but it also has served as a reminder that her story didn't seem to generate the same reaction when she divorced Greenberg in 2013.
Williams said her own efforts to tell her story and to seek help at the time of the abuse fell on deaf ears, as did the efforts of Greenberg's other victims. Neither Morgan Stanley nor local authorities seemed willing to listen, she said.
"Every one of us women have been saying this is a problem," she told The Review. "We've been trying to get this person to stop bothering us, and it never happened. All of us have complained to (Morgan Stanley) — but it's also a Lake Oswego problem."
On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley fired Greenberg, saying in a statement that the bank "must and will do better" at handling employee misconduct issues.
"We believe that our employees should behave in a manner consistent with our firm's values and the trust our clients place in us, both of which include treating women, and indeed everyone, with dignity and respect," spokeswoman Christy Jockle said in an emailed statement. "We have undertaken steps in recent years to ensure that issues such as this are properly escalated. However, in light of current events, we must and will do better."
But until Tuesday's firing, The Times reported, Greenberg had remained one of Morgan Stanley's top financial advisers and a member of its elite "Chairman's Club," which recognizes brokers who are not only top producers but also meet certain "conduct and compliance standards."
Greenberg, who was in the top 2 percent of revenue producers at the firm, was named to Forbes' list of Oregon's top wealth managers in February, The Times reported. Within Morgan Stanley, his Greenberg Group managed accounts for some of the Portland metro area's largest companies and wealthiest individuals.
According to The Times, the four accusers were all either Greenberg's ex-wives or girlfriends. None of them ever worked for Morgan Stanley.
"He threatened to burn down my house with me in it," one woman wrote in her application for a restraining order, according to The Times. "I don't know what he's going to do next," a second wrote. "He choked me so hard it left a mark on my throat," wrote another. "He is scaring my children and me," a fourth woman said.
Morgan Stanley received a federal subpoena related to one abuse allegation, a lawyer for one of the women told the newspaper. In another instance, a Morgan Stanley manager alerted his boss when Greenberg was charged with violating a restraining order, three former bank employees told The Times.
Another manager at the firm liked and replied to a Facebook post by Williams in which she described his abuse, The Times said. On yet another occasion, an official from the bank's New York headquarters flew to Portland to investigate, two former employees told the newspaper.
Greenberg told The Times that he had no comment last week, and attempts by The Review to reach him since the original story was published have been unsuccessful. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Morgan Stanley webpage for his Greenberg Group was offline and redirected visitors to an error message.
An attorney for two of the other victims also did not reply to The Review's request for comment.
But in an interview this week, Williams said she moved to Lake Oswego one year after marrying Greenberg in 2008 and divorced him in 2013 after years of abuse. She told The Review that she had been unable to get either the Lake Oswego Police Department or the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office to take her situation seriously, and so she opted to move away from the city.
She spent the next several years working in the Portland area as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and telling her story. She attended classes and served on a fundraising committee for the domestic violence response organization Bradley Angle, and worked with some individual survivors on an unofficial basis, often relying on word of mouth to put her in touch with them.
"Friends of friends knew I wanted to help," she said.
In 2014, she joined the Governor's Domestic Violence Task Force, which was created by former Gov. John Kitzhaber and chaired by then-DHS director Erinn Kelley-Siel. The committee was tasked with identifying gaps in Oregon's responses to domestic violence and developing ideas to improve the state's approach.
The task force examined a number of gaps in Oregon law concerning domestic violence and potential solutions, and Williams said one of the foremost topics was the need for police to be able to seek emergency protective orders if they encounter a domestic violence situation during a time of day when the courts are closed.
Williams said she campaigned strongly for that issue, and drew on her own experience to make the point. She left Greenberg in 2013 out of fear for her safety, she said, but due to a combination of reduced court hours, a weekend and a holiday, it took her four days to secure a restraining order.
"I left on a Thursday," she said, "and I wasn't able to get a temporary restraining order until Tuesday morning, which was not good for my own safety."
The task force ended in 2015, but the state's domestic violence policy work has continued in the same direction; Williams said one of the committee's recommendations was a procedure to allow authorities to confiscate firearms from intimate partners who had been convicted of domestic violence, and a version of that legislation passed earlier this year and was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown.
Williams said her time on the task force and working as an advocate was eye-opening, and gave her a much greater understanding of the dynamics that are often at play in abusive relationships.
"The main thing is that it doesn't matter whether someone is black, white, rich, poor, well-educated, male-female relationship or LGBT," she said. "This happens across all types of relationships, but the patterns are usually very similar."
Unfortunately, her own abuse continued even as she worked to help others. In the Times story, Williams said she began receiving letters in the mail made from cut-out magazine letters after she wrote the Facebook posts describing her ex-husband's abuse. She said she viewed the letters as threatening and reported them to Portland Police. The case was eventually turned over to federal prosecutors, the Times reported.
In 2016, Williams moved to Gearhart and started a new business as the owner of a reopened ice cream and coffee shop. Since then, she told The Review, her activism work has taken a backseat while she focuses on growing and running the business.
In an article this week in the Daily Astorian, Williams said she chose a spot for the store within eyesight of the police station and with a good view of the surrounding town, and equipped it with nine security cameras.
After nearly two years spent working on the coast, Williams told The Review that the Times story came as a surprise. She said she didn't seek the paper out, but has been happy to see Greenberg's history getting more scrutiny in the days since the story ran.
Still, she told The Review, it's also a frustrating reminder of the inaction she encountered when she needed help years earlier.
"None of this is a secret," she said. "That's the issue; it has been all along. None of us were taken seriously, and we were not handled in any type of professional manner."