A case of sexual harassment and mistaken identity in the digital age?

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This “First Person” column in the Chron describes what the pseudonymous author asserts was a false charge of sexual harassment. His claim is that he was charged with sexually harassing a student who was also a university employee. The student, he asserts, had gotten the address wrong when she e-mailed the professor at a personal account, and some random stranger receiving these errant e-mails responded by sexually harassing the student via numerous email messages, and signing the professor’s name.

As Lesboprof notes, “the author has a story he can retell that will be adopted by every man who has ever complained about attending harassment training.” It’s a remarkable and horrifying account of unfairness to both accuser and accused. But it would have been a lot more powerful if the author had revealed his name, and/or the details of what occurred were in any way verifiable. This is supposed to be a cautionary tale intended to thwart “rush[es] to judgment regarding men (typically) who are accused of sexual harassment.” Without supporting evidence, though, it isn’t clear why the author thinks it should be weighed any more heavily that unsubstantiated allegations of sexual harassment.

–Ann Bartow

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