CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — On Tuesday, three Harvard doctoral students filed suit against Harvard University for a "decade-long failure to protect students from sexual abuse and career-ending retaliation."
The plaintiffs in the suit are Margaret Czerwienski, Lilia Kilburn, and Amulya Mandava, who alleged that their university protected Dr. John Comaroff, a Harvard Professor of Anthropology and of African and African American Studies despite decades worth of reported sexual abuse against him.
According to the suit, Comaroff groped, forcibly kissed, and threatened career-ending retaliation against the victims if they spoke out.
The suit claimed that Harvard was aware of Comaroff's misconduct prior to hiring him, as his previous workplace, UChicago, allegedly warned the Ivy League school of his behavior. Harvard hired Comaroff anyway, the suit said.
Czerweinski, Kilburn, and Mandava said that Harvard's indifference to Comaroff's repeated offenses enabled him to harass students and upend their careers. But the suit said that the three plaintiffs were not alone, as it alleged a Harvard committee revealed that the Anthropology Department was plagued by a "'longstanding pattern of sexism, misogyny, and sexual and gender-based misconduct' that 'has gone largely unchecked by a predominantly white, male faculty.'"
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"In short, the report concluded, Harvard has condoned a 'culture in which the abuse of power is normalized and accommodated,'" the suit said.
The plaintiffs demanded for a declaratory judgment of Harvard's policies, permanent injunction against the university, punitive damage awards, and a trial by jury.
In a survey, about a third of graduate students in the Department reported harassment, the lawsuit alleged.
WBZ NewsRadio reached out to Harvard for a comment but have not received a response at the time of posting.