Sexual-harassment case details emerge

A faculty member in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations currently being investigated by the University after allegations of sexual harassment committed sexual harassment twice against the same victim, not once as previously reported.

The faculty member also pressured others in the department to keep quiet about the incidents, according to interviews with individuals in the department this month.

Because it has yet to be resolved, the matter — which was originally being handled internally by Graduate School administrators — has been transferred to the Provost’s Office, Graduate School Dean John Butler said.

On April 8, a police report was filed with the Yale Police Department accusing the faculty member of sexual harassment, YPD spokesman Sergeant Steven Woznyk told the News two weeks ago. Recent interviews suggest that the accused faculty member allegedly committed sexual harassment against a lector in the NELC department on both the nights of April 6, 2008 and Dec. 2, 2007, the latter of which was not previously reported by the News.

The faculty member’s name is being withheld by the News because no formal charges have been filed and no finding has been made by the University.

According to a source within the NELC department with knowledge of the incidents, the faculty member allegedly pressured the victim — a subordinate — to purchase cigarettes and perform other errands on a weekly basis since 2003.

But in an April 15 interview, the faculty member denied all allegations of harassment.

“You are incorrect,” the faculty member said. “If I were harassing someone, I would know.”

Since that initial interview, the faculty member has not responded to multiple e-mail requests for comment.

According to the source, the faculty member had been demanding the victim’s company during errands to the grocery store for years. In December, the faculty member allegedly insisted that the victim meet the faculty member at the Hall of Graduate Studies. The source said the two then drove to the grocery store, and after finishing shopping, the faculty member and victim returned to the faculty member’s home. According to the source, the faculty member brewed coffee and then made an “offer” which the victim interpreted as sexual harassment. The victim allegedly left the faculty member’s home immediately.

Still, the faculty member remained unperturbed, the source said. Only three days later, the faculty member allegedly asked the victim for help moving to a new house. For the next four months, the faculty member continued to demand that the victim run errands on the same, frequent basis, according to the source’s account.

Then, on the night of April 6, the faculty member asked the victim to purchase four packs of cigarettes from Walgreens and bring them to the faculty member’s house, according to the source. Upon arriving at the house, the victim was told that the victim would only be repaid for the cigarettes if they followed a “condition,” the source said. According to the source, this stipulation represented an act of sexual harassment, and the victim left immediately. The source declined to comment further about the nature of the harassment.

The next day, after the faculty member was unable to reach the victim by phone, the faculty member allegedly telephoned a lector within the department, a second individual in the NELC department said.

In their conversation over the phone, the faculty member told the lector that the faculty member would come to a class the victim was teaching the next day, according to the second source. Because the faculty member was not expected to be at the building that day, the second source said, the faculty member told the lector to tell others within the department that the faculty member had come to the building to prepare a plan for the next school year.

The following day, April 8, the faculty member allegedly came to the victim’s class as planned, both sources independently said in separate accounts which follow. After calling the victim into the hallway, the faculty member allegedly told the victim that if the incident Sunday was spoken about, the victim’s job would be lost. The faculty member’s voice was allegedly so loud that students in the class could hear the yelling through the classroom’s closed doors.

While the faculty member insisted in the hallway that the victim take the money for the cigarettes, the victim declined, both sources said. Afterward, the first source said, the faculty member gave the money, in the form of a check, to a student in the class, insisting that the student give it to the victim.

Every student in the class declined to comment when contacted by e-mail.

That day, according to the first source, the victim went to the YPD and reported the harassment incidents, as well as the episode in the hallway outside the classroom.

The next day, the first source said, the victim met with a senior administrator and John Darnell, the chair of the NELC department, who declined to comment to the News on the matter.

The shift of jurisdiction of the matter to the Provost’s Office follows the related policies outlined in the Yale University Faculty Handbook, which state that matters unable to be resolved by the appropriate dean — in this case, Butler — will be handled by the provost.

Provost Andrew Hamilton declined to comment on the matter, citing a policy of not speaking publicly about personnel matters.

According to the Yale University Statement on Sexual Harassment, sexual harassment violates University policy and “may result in serious disciplinary action.” The statement explains that sexual harassment can consist of a single or multiple incidents.

The University’s Sexual Harassment guide for faculty, students and staff, published by the Provost’s Office, notes that sexual harassment carries severe consequences.

“Persons found to have engaged in sexual harassment will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion,” the guide reads.

According to the Faculty Handbook, the provost should respond to a complaint of sexual harassment within three months of receiving it. However, the handbook states, the provost is able to lengthen the decision-making period if necessary.

Comments

  • Signed, Tip of the Iceberg

    Oh my, oh my. Come on staff and grad students, let's hear it! This is no isolated case! Darned socks? Picked up dry cleaning? Baby sat? Had a heavy glass ashtray thrown at you? Soulful dinners at a Japanese restaurant? One too many pats and squeezes about your person? Someone shouting, actually shouting, "I'm the most important faculty member in this school", as an argument for deserving to break the rules? Has this or something worse happened to you?

    You know these faculty can be just awful--most 4-year-olds have better self-control and manners than the indulged and self-important toads that swan about this campus. They think being a faculty member is a bye for all kinds of behavior, but it ain't. They just look like complete idiots. Back in the day, a good education and a proper upbringing were prerequisites to professorship. Now it is just an endurance test of weeniehood. Basic civility and the benefits of good breeding are shunted aside by these giant fragile egos. It would be pathetic if they didn't have the power to ruin people's work environment or careers.

  • Lolstvoy

    No means no, friendo.

  • John M

    I was told by a male senior professor that I had to practically make a pass at a senior female professor (not very attractive) if I wanted to be considered for promotion.