CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A former MIT professor and millionaire businessman was indicted Thursday on charges he falsely claimed to have been shot by a gunman outside his Cambridge office late last year.
John J. Donovan Sr. was charged with one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report about the Dec. 16 shooting.
Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said Donovan, who has been embroiled in a range of bitter disputes with his family, originally told police he believed his son James arranged the shooting.
"The entire event was fabricated and staged," Coakley said.
Coakley said she believes Donovan, who was a gun owner with experience handling a weapon, shot himself, though authorities said there was a possibility he asked someone to shoot him.
Donovan's attorney, Barry Klickstein, said Donovan "vehemently, adamantly denies that he had any role in orchestrating" his shooting.
"The professor was viciously shot multiple times by two strangers outside his office," Klickstein said Thursday.
Donovan, 64, has degrees from Tufts and Yale universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a longtime professor. He has published 11 business books and has started several profitable companies.
Fortune 500 firms paid Donovan hefty fees to speak, prompting The New York Times to dub him the "Johnny Carson of the training circuit."
Donovan's personal life had grown increasingly troubled in recent years. Last year, he was involved in at least 17 lawsuits, including an allegation of sexual abuse by one of his daughters and a fight in civil court with his five children. He has denied the abuse claim.
Four of Donovan's five children issued a joint statement saying they were "saddened, but not surprised" by the allegations.
"John Donovan Sr. has a history of misconduct and of going to great lengths to avoid his legal obligations. We hope this prosecution will bring him and any others who may be involved to justice," said the statement signed by Rebecca Brown, James Donovan, Maureen Lantz and Carolyn Rosenbaum.
A separate statement from John Donovan Jr. said "despite all that has happened, I love my family."
"This situation causes me tremendous pain every day. If I can help my father or my siblings through this I will," he said.
On Dec. 16, police investigated a possible attempted break-in at Donovan's home in Hamilton and found an open door but no sign of forced entry. Donovan called police about 30 minutes later from the parking lot of his company, Cambridge Executive Enterprises, to report he had been shot several times.
Donovan, who suffered only minor injuries in the shooting, told police he was shot by a white male.
Coakley said Donovan's story seemed credible at first but started to unravel.
One factor was a security camera that normally records the parking lot where the shooting occurred; the camera was not recording that evening. Authorities also became suspicious then they learned of the troubles in Donovan's family.
Klickstein said he was disappointed with the charge.
"He's cooperated fully with authorities, giving them every detail over many hours of taped interviews, and he'll continue to cooperate because he's intent in seeing that whoever is responsible for the shooting gets brought to justice," the attorney said.
If convicted of filing a false police report, Donovan could face up to a year in jail and fines up to $500.