An investigation by a college newspaper has uncovered that a long-tenured faculty member of its theatre program has been accused by multiple female students of sexual misconduct. Even more, the college knew of the allegations, found the professor had violated sexual harassment policies, yet he is still employed to this day.
According to The Recorder, the newspaper for Central Connecticut State University, Theatre Professor Joshua Perlstein had been accused of sexual harassment over an incident with a former student in 2004.
That student, Anna Brewer, reported to college officials about an encounter she had with Mr. Perlstein while talking with him. The Recorder reported,
"He had been talking about moving to Connecticut and then he told me that moving to Connecticut to meet me was his destiny,” the student, who changed her surname to Kelly after her marriage, recalled of the 2004 encounter. “At that moment, all the blood left my face. I immediately understood that the relationship had changed and I had no idea what to do.”
And then, Kelly said, Perlstein kissed her slowly on the cheek.
Kelly was shocked by the kiss, she said, but was cautious about turning down his advances.
“I was trying to be nice about it because I was aware I was in a park, alone with a man who had become dangerous to me,” Kelly, who is now 35, said in an interview with The Recorder in February.
As the two walked back to campus, Perlstein took her hand, she said. Kelly let her hand go limp.
When they returned to the campus, Kelly and Perlstein parted ways in front of the steps to Maloney Hall.
“Before I left, he reached around, gave me this huge hug and reached around and grabbed my butt,” Kelly said in the interview."
The Recorder's investigation continues,
"University officials have known Kelly’s story since she filed a formal complaint more than a dozen years ago. Despite finding that Perlstein violated Central’s sexual harassment policy, and reports involving allegations of misconduct with other female students, Perlstein remains a professor at Central, having received tenure in 1998 and a promotion to Associate Professor in 2000.
Over the course of an investigation by The Recorder, eight former students and faculty have come forward to disclose unwelcome advances by Perlstein they have personally experienced or students have reported having to them. Three of those interviewed had made reports to school officials."
The Recorder's investigation, detailed here, also goes into detail with other accounts from other former students.
While Mr. Perlstein declined comment to The Recorder, he did provide an email statement to the local FOX61 affiliate:
"I have just read the article for the first time. The allegations that were mentioned have been investigated and resolved by the University. If they are going to conduct another investigation I will of course fully cooperate."
CCSU President, Zulma R. Toro, also released a statement to FOX61:
What I read in the article is truly disturbing and surprising to me. It does not represent who we are as a public institution of higher education or who we are as faculty, mentors, and advisers. At this time, let me be clear: Central Connecticut State University has a no-tolerance policy, and I apologize to our students who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct.
Be assured that I do not take these allegations lightly. Therefore, this morning I have instructed the Provost, the Chief Human Resources Officer, and the Chief Diversity Officer to conduct a comprehensive investigation. Specifically, I have asked our Chief Diversity Officer to review the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy, especially as it relates to the 90-day reporting deadline.
As part of our due diligence, I have also asked an external agency with experience in situations of this nature to conduct a full investigation. Once I receive the results of these investigations, I will determine the next steps and will keep you informed.
I want you to know that we are fully committed to changing the environment in the Theatre Department and on campus. I also wish to assure every one of our students that this is a welcoming, safe place for them.
We will be updating this story as more information is released.
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