U of T received formal complaints against ex-Trinity College provost accused of sexual harassment, but he wasn’t punished

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The University of Toronto has received formal complaints on at least two occasions about former professor Andy Orchard, alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate touching of graduate students. But it was his progress, not the professor, who suffered the consequences, Starr learned.

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According to a blockbuster al., Orchard, a world-renowned scholar of English and medieval studies who was Trinity College’s provost and chancellor from 2007 to 2013, allegedly engaged in sexual relations with his students and sexually assaulted others. Jazeera report published this week on sexual misconduct in academia.

Orchard did not respond to Star’s request for comment. Orchard’s lawyers sent a five-page letter to Al Jazeera disputing the allegations, but they did not allow it to appear in the report.


Star has obtained a letter confirming that two students complained that Orchard isolated a student in conversation and did not let go of his hand at a pub near the U of T campus, where he was a regular. Usually used to meet students outside the class. A 2008 letter by the executive director of the Center for Medieval Studies informed the Orchard that “it is inappropriate to interact with students in a pub or under the influence of alcohol.”

“…as reported, the conduct was inappropriate and in violation of the University’s policy of conflict of interest and the Provost’s guidelines regarding close personal relationships with students,” the letter said. “Let me advise you that the alleged conduct may also be a violation of university policy and procedures on sexual harassment.”

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Despite these alleged violations, Orchard suffered no consequences. He was told not to do it again.

“Let me caution you that in future you should take care not to put your personal interests in conflict with those of your students,” the letter said.

But the students involved in the incident were reassigned to the new thesis supervisors.

Orchard now teaches at Oxford University in the UK. Responding to the letter, he wrote in 2008 that his “recollection of events is at significant variance with the allegations I have gathered.”

“Neither do I force or compel anyone (students or others) to sit with me in the pub; As you yourself have noticed, it is the case that people look for me, ”he wrote. He described the department’s response as “witch-hunting”.

This was not the first time students had complained about the orchard.

In 2004, a report was made to the U of T’s Office of Sexual Harassment and Harassment on behalf of three female graduate students alleging that they had been sexually assaulted by Orchard.

Response: He was given a new supervisor to “get him out of harm’s way”, said Professor Emeritus David Klausner, who produced the report on his behalf.

Klausner said he was asked to warn other graduate students about Orchard’s behavior.

“What was recommended was that I spoke to a considerable number of female graduate students … and warned them to be careful, make sure you don’t wind up in a room with Andy alone, with the door closed,” They said.

On Tuesday, an investigative report by Al Jazeera on sexual harassment at universities put forth allegations from several female academics, including a current vice president at the University of Toronto, that Orchard, who was a professor and provost at Trinity College, committed sexual assault. did. Harassed the staff and students and also created inappropriate relations with the students.

While the University of Toronto issued a statement Wednesday calling the claims “troubling to us all,” and as Trinity College said it would conduct an external investigation into the issue, Klausner said it was clear that the sexual violence support center Orchard was aware of his alleged conduct. 17 years ago.

“[The sexual support centre’s] The advice was to get the students out of harm’s way as soon as possible,” he said, which meant taking the students to new supervisors.

“They certainly knew what was happening, or knew what was happening,” he said.

Asked to confirm Klausner’s report, the university said it had no further comment.

Professor Emeritus David Klausner says he accused Andy Orchard of sexual assault by three students on his behalf in 2004.

In mid-2004, Klausner said that three female graduate students had come to him to report Orchard’s conduct as Klausner was the former director of the Medieval Studies Program at the university, and a professor in the Orchard department.

The three students said that Orchard had touched them inappropriately while going out for drinks with them. The orchard was known for holding student gatherings and gatherings in a nearby pub.

“Andy used to be ‘everybody’s hand’ in regular meetings with students at the local pub. What the students told me was that they didn’t know where to put their hands,” he said.

“It makes me sick, to be completely honest,” Klausner said, referring to Orchard’s behavior. “Why in the hell would he be doing something incredibly stupid like this,” he said was his reaction at the time.

Klausner said the Office of Sexual Harassment had advised her to speak to Orchard about her conduct. A day after reporting the alleged harassment he said he arranged a meeting with Orchard.

“I told him to cut it,” he said. He said the orchard did not react well to the confrontation.

“But by that time the damage was done,” Klausner said. He said that over the next few years, Orchard’s behavior was known and he continued to warn female graduate students about Orchard, as the Sexual Harassment Center recommended him to do so.

When Klausner saw Al Jazeera’s published report, he said he was relieved and not surprised.

“It’s been 15 years, but I knew at some point this thing was going to fly,” he said.

While he said he felt the support center was taking the incident seriously at the time and the students made it clear to him that they were satisfied with the results, no longer working with Orchard, he told Starr that this type of harassment Should be handled very differently now.

“I think things have improved a lot. I don’t think what happened with Orchard would have been possible in the environment that we have now,” Klausner said. “Not cool the way Orchard was. could be kept. I think the university is doing a better job of it now.”

Olivia Bowden is a Toronto-based staff reporter for Star. Reach him via email: [email protected]
Marco Chown is a Toronto-based investigative reporter for Oved Star. Follow him on Twitter: @marcooved

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