(JustPatriots.com)- Students at Harvard University conducted a public walk-out of a class taught by Dr. John Comaroff.
The prestigious institution allegedly disregarded sexual harassment claims against a well-known tenured professor who, in one incident, forcibly kissed and groped a woman and threatened to subject her to “corrective rape” if she brought her girlfriend along for fieldwork in Africa, according to the lawsuit. He is accused of groping and kissing two other graduate students.
The suit has the support of the US Department of Justice on Title IX grounds.
Comaroff, a professor of anthropology and an authority on South Africa, had been placed on administrative leave after a college probe into his behavior.
Margaret Czerwienski, Lilia Kilburn, and Amulya Mandava, the three plaintiffs, claimed that Comaroff had engaged in years of “kissing and groping students without their permission, making unwanted sexual approaches, and threatening to damage students’ careers if they reported.
According to the lawsuit, Comaroff informed Kilburn with a “tone of delight” that she may be the victim of “corrective rape” or murder if she were discovered to be a lesbian while doing field research in Africa. The complaint says Kilburn was exposed to “an ongoing nightmare” that included further coercive control, groping, and invitations to meet alone off-campus.
According to Comaroff, “this was a necessary dialogue for her protection,” and “he was motivated purely by his concern for Ms. Kilburn’s well-being and had no romantic or sexual desire,” according to a statement from his attorneys.
The other plaintiffs, Margaret Czerwienski and Amulya Mandava said that when they complained to university officials about Comaroff’s actions, he threatened to ruin their careers as payback.
Comaroff said that neither Czerwienski nor Mandava had ever been threatened, saying instead that he had “consistently made every effort to help these students and to promote their careers.”
All three plaintiffs claimed that Harvard had violated Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, which safeguards students from sex discrimination and many Massachusetts statutes, and that this had “profoundly impacted” their academic paths and professional prospects.
Harvard is accused of violating women’s rights, and the complaint asks for a jury trial, unspecified damages, and a verdict.