Sexual misconduct complaints decrease

Sex
Photo by Yale Daily News.

Forty complaints of sexual misconduct were brought to University officials during the last half of 2012, according to Yale’s third semiannual report of sexual misconduct complaints.

The report, announced in a University-wide email Thursday evening from Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler, outlines all complaints and inquiries brought to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, Title IX Coordinators, the Yale Police Department and Human Resources between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2012. The newest report shows that the number of complaints brought to officials has decreased from the past two reports — 52 cases were reported in the in the second six months of 2011, and 49 in the first half of 2012.

“One … trend that is worth commenting upon is the increasing amount of joint efforts and consultation between the UWC and the Title IX coordinators,” UWC Committee Chair Michael Della Rocca said in an email to the News. “These good working relationships allow for the kind of thoroughness and flexibility of response that we need in handling these cases.”

Graduate School Associate Dean Pamela Schirmeister confirmed that a case involving Egyptology professor John Darnell — who violated University policy when he engaged in an alleged relationship with Egyptology professor Colleen Manassa ’01 GRD ’05 — appeared in the report. Darnell announced his resignation as chair of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department in a Jan. 8 email in which he cited an intimate relationship with a student under his direct supervision and with a professor whom he reviewed as reasons for his departure. University Spokesman Tom Conroy told the News that Darnell agreed to a one-year suspension without pay, but further details concerning the process resulting in his discipline were not available.

The report states that the complainant in one case was a staff member who “reported that a male faculty member engaged in a sexual relationship with a female student whom he supervised while she was both an undergraduate and a graduate and professional student, in violation of the Policy on Teacher-Student Consensual Relations. The respondent admitted a violation of the consensual relations policy and accepted a one-year suspension without pay.”

Schirmeister declined to comment on what specific parts of the report involved Darnell due to the report’s confidential nature, but she added that as the case was adjudicated before the end of 2012, it should appear in the report.

In the second half of 2012, the number of total complaints reported was the lowest since the first report was issued in 2011. The decline could reflect an improved sexual climate on campus because of increased awareness about sexual misconduct, Schirmeister said, but it could also result from other factors such as underreporting. The number of complaints in 2011 and early 2012 could also have been inflated due to complainants bringing up older cases for the first time after the restructuring of Yale’s sexual misconduct reporting system in 2011.

Spangler said the report in part serves to increase awareness of issues of sexual misconduct on campus and that she has received positive feedback from the three reports published so far.

“I have been extremely encouraged by the number and thoughtfulness of the comments and suggestions I receive not only after the reports are published but on a regular basis,” she said.

Della Rocca said one or more parties in a “large number of UWC cases” have been under the influence of alcohol, a statistic that is “striking.” Details about alcohol’s role in the sexual misconduct cases is not included in the report, but one respondent was referred to alcohol counseling by Title IX Coordinators.

Many cases handled informally and formally by the UWC have involved instances of intimate partner violence, Della Rocca added, which he said was “noteworthy.” The report included two mentions of intimate partner violence in its description of formal complaints. One graduate or professional school student was given a two-semester suspension after an investigation by the UWC into allegations of intimate partner violence.

Seven complainants declined to pursue their cases after being informed the options of formal and informal resolution. For the first time, the report included three accounts of requests for advice from the UWC. In these requests for advice, the UWC provides information about all formal and informal options for reviewing his or her complaint. All three accounts were cases of nonconsensual sex. Eight complaints were brought against faculty members, according to the report.

Twenty-eight complaints were brought to Title IX Coordinators, five to the UWC, seven to Yale Police and none to Human Resources. The YPD made three arrests following complaints by staff about non-Yale respondents.

Three previously reported cases were updated in the UWC’s most recent report.

 

Julia Zorthian contributed reporting.

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