8.23.16 | Azeen Ghorayshi
The University of Kentucky will take its student paper to court to avoid releasing documents detailing scientist James Harwood’s alleged sexual assault against two students.
In an unprecedented move to keep the contents of a faculty sexual assault investigation secret, the University of Kentucky intends to sue its own student newspaper.
In February, two months after being charged with sexual assault and harassment against two students in his department, James Harwood resigned from his position as an associate professor of entomology without stated cause.
According to 122 pages of investigation documents that were leaked to the student paper, the independently run Kentucky Kernel, Harwood violated school sexual assault policies by “fondling” the two students at two conferences in 2012 and 2013. He was also found to have sexually harassed the students in each case. Three other students did not file formal complaints but testified to the investigator about other alleged incidents of sexual misconduct as recently as 2015.
The university would not confirm the authenticity of the documents, which the Kernel reported are signed by the university’s deputy Title IX coordinator, Martha Alexander.
The investigation, which concluded in December, was initially kept secret. The investigator recommended that Harwood’s “employment with the University be terminated and his tenure as a faculty member be revoked.” But Harwood’s subsequent agreement with the university allowed him to resign instead of going through the lengthy process of a disciplinary hearing. This also means that the investigation won’t be disclosed if he applies to new jobs.