Earlier this month, The Washington Post published an article about women rethinking past encounters and now seeing them as sexual assault or harassment. The main story in the article was from a woman named Ruth D’Eredita, who claims a professor at Mount Holyoke College groped her and kissed her while she was a student there in the 1980s.
D’Eredita graduated in 1984, but after watching other women make claims as part of the #MeToo movement, she now has decided whatever happened 30 years ago must be held against the professor using today’s standards.
First, let’s be clear: If the professor did these things to D’Eredita against her will as she claims, he is awful. We don’t know what really happened — and we don’t know his side of the story. We also don’t know if he’s continued to act this way toward students or if he never did this again, if he did it at all.
D’Eredita wrote a letter to Mount Holyoke in October 2017, saying the professor drove her to an art museum for what she thought was an academic outing, only to start kissing and groping her in the car and then in the museum. The professor still teaches at Mount Holyoke, so the school “hired an outside firm to investigate but ultimately concluded there was not enough evidence to prove her account,” the Post wrote.
“I know what he did to me. I know where he did it. I have been reliving it,” D’Eredita told the Post.
Even though the school investigated and could not find enough evidence to validate D’Eredita’s account, the Post published her accusation and acted as if she were wronged. The Post reached out to Mount Holyoke officials, who declined to comment, but didn’t seem to make an attempt to reach out to the professor in question.
After D’Eredita’s story was published in the Post, Mount Holyoke sent an email to students saying the accused professor “is not on campus.”
“In response to the recent news and our outreach, we have heard extensive concerns about the serious disruption to the learning environment,” school officials wrote, according to a copy of the email obtained by The Daily Wire. “Many students have indicated that the current situation is harmful to their own mental health. We have also received new information that requires us to conduct further inquiry.”
“As a result of these recent developments, and in order to ensure that the learning environment is most productive, we have canceled two courses where concerns have been raised and have informed the students enrolled in the class,” the email continued. “The faculty member is not on campus. This process is being undertaken in accordance with college policies.”
The college then listed steps it had taken since 2016 to allegedly improve its Title IX process, which included training designed to assume the accused is guilty from the start.
Mount Holyoke did not respond to a Daily Wire request for information, nor did a professor believed to be the one who was put on leave.
Perhaps other people came forward after the school sought out additional claims against this professor or after the Post article was published. Perhaps this professor deserved to have his classes canceled. But the school’s approach — to reopen the investigation after negative press — seems like a dangerous precedent.