Student Sues Columbia Over ‘Deliberate Indifference’ to Harassment Claims Against Historian William V. HarrisHistorians in the News
tags: sexual harassment
In the latest allegation of sexual harassment by a high-profile academic, a prominent historian at Columbia University has been accused of forcing himself on a 29-year-old female doctoral student and disparaging her to colleagues when she rebuffed him.
According to a lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan federal court against the university and the historian, William V. Harris, 79, a scholar of Greco-Roman history, he repeatedly kissed and groped the woman while serving as her mentor at the university. When the woman, identified only as Jane Doe, reported Dr. Harris’s behavior to other professors and university officials, the complaint said, they turned a blind eye or took only superficial steps, such as telling her to remain in her office while he was nearby to avoid running into him.
The complaint also claims the university had long been aware of Dr. Harris’s reputation for abusing his power over young, female students, but never addressed it.
“We’ve reached a point in this case that I never could have imagined, and that is largely to do with Columbia’s deliberate indifference to Professor Harris’s coercive behavior,” the plaintiff said in an interview. She is seeking compensation for damage to her career; she withdrew from the university for an academic year because of the harassment, she said.