Thirty-four Harvard University professors retracted their support for a colleague allegedly accused of sexual misconduct after three graduate students filed a lawsuit Tuesday, according to the Harvard Crimson.
Thirty-eight faculty total had signed the letter in support of Professor John Comaroff, the Harvard Crimson reported. Of those 38, the 34 who retracted their signatures said they “failed to appreciate the impact their previous message would have,” according to the Crimson.
The 34 professors decided to retract their signatures after graduate students Margaret G. Czerwienski, Lilia M. Kilburn, and Amulya Mandava filed a lawsuit Tuesday and accused Comaroff of sexual misconduct, including unwanted kissing and groping, threats, and coercion, the Crimson reported. In addition, the lawsuit alleged that Harvard University failed to act on reports of misconduct made against Comaroff. Comaroff was not named in the lawsuit.
Comaroff, an Anthropology and African and African-American Studies professor, was placed on unpaid administrative leave Jan. 20, the Crimson reported. The university decided to put Comaroff on leave after an investigation determined he “violated the school’s sexual harassment and professional conduct policies.” (RELATED: Harvard Prof To Resign After 18 Sexual Harassment Allegations)
Comaroff was previously put on paid administrative leave in August of 2020 after an investigation conducted by the Harvard Crimson found that at least three female students made allegations of unwanted touching, verbal sexual harassment, and professional retaliation against him.
A New York Times piece published Feb. 8 detailed the allegations made against Comaroff by Czerwienski, Kilburn, and Mandava, including an instance where Comaroff allegedly told Kilburn she could be subjected to “corrective rape” in certain parts of Africa because she identifies as a lesbian.