School disavow Outdated Dominion College’s dealing with of intercourse assault, harassment allegations
Faculty members at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia have signed a letter disavowing the school’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against a prominent biographer and visiting professor.
More than 100 faculty members at Old Dominion University in Virginia have signed a letter rejecting a university statement on allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against a prominent biographer who was visiting professor from 2010 to 2016.
Blake Bailey, whose highly anticipated biography was pulled by Philip Roth after complaints that he was too lenient with Roth’s behavior towards women, was recently accused in an article of molesting and assaulting four women.
In a June 10 article, The Virginian Pilot quoted victims and witnesses who alleged Bailey assaulted a graduate student and guest writer, cared for another graduate student, and sexually abused and threatened rape a linguistics professor.
Old Dominion University hired the law firm Kaufman & Canoles, PC, to respond to the article in a statement to the newspaper published last week.
The university’s statement issued by the law firm concluded that there was “no reason to believe the allegations”.
“None of the people who now make allegations a decade later have ever made a report of an attack, attempted attack, or any other type of sexual harassment,” the ODU statement said.
More than 110 faculty members from Old Dominion University have signed a letter in support of the women who spoke up in the article and criticized the university’s testimony.
“The attorney who wrote the statement on behalf of ODU uses reprehensible language that engages in victim allegations and sexist tropes,” the faculty’s letter reads. “The statement went out of its way to discredit and even insult women by using centuries-old tropes to silence women.”
“We as faculty, students and staff want the public to know that the official statement published by ODU does not represent the faith of the community,” said the June 13 statement in support of those who have shared their stories.
The faculty letter required ODU to apologize to the women disparaged in the statement, to fire the law firm, and to investigate Bailey’s six years at university.
In a Monday email to faculty, University President John Broderick apologized to the women quoted in the article, reflecting the tone of the school’s response.
“It appeared to many, including myself, that the victims were being blamed, and I apologize for that, too,” he said, adding that he would establish a task force to “review all of our existing policies and practices for a safe and fair review to check”. Workplace and examine how we empower our faculties, administrators, staff and students on these matters. “
Broderick emphasized the school’s desire to create a safe environment for women and a safe way to report assault or harassment.
“This university stands firmly on the principle that no one should ever be subjected to abuse or harassment of any kind,” he said.
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