Dec

11

Lawsuit Claims Professor Threatened Grades for Sex

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The New York Post is reporting that Laura Williams, a student in the School of Social Work, has filed a lawsuit claiming Professor Joseph Paul Martin from SIPA “constantly pressured her for sex,” and used her grade in the class as leverage. Martin is also Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights. Allegedly, when Williams refused, Martin accused her of “cheating” in the class—which was an independent-study in human trafficking.

The article, posted early this morning, is brief and vague. Besides the allegations, there does not seem to be verifiable evidence available. We know by now to be cautious when it comes to the Post, but we’ve reached out to the University for official comment, and will keep you updated as we learn more.

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41 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Sounds like she didn't get an A and is now trying to shake down the professor.

    • Anonymous  

      We don't know the whole story. It's not fair to blame either party at this point.

    • yuppp

      that's what I did last time some geezer wanted to stick me with a B+
      ...she's pullin the ol' super-elaborate-and-expensive-sexual-harassment-suit-in-federal-court-that'll-probably-end-in-a-counter-suit-if-her-claims-aren't-substantive stunt... oldest trick in the book

      • BC '12  

        To be fair, cheating is much worse than a bad grade and can seriously fuck up your academic career. Knowing the man as my advisor the accusations are hard to imagine.

        • yuppp

          I, like everyone else here, have no idea where the truth lies in this very troubling situation.

          My comment was not really meant to take a stance on legal proceedings, but simply to highlight the absurdity (and general dickishness) of adopting anonymous' blame-the-accuser mentality given the very small amount of information that has come to light thus far.

        • Anonymous

          Well it may be hard to imagine bc ur an unattractive female or a male. (this is meant as a tasteless joke. Im sure ur quite cute to someone. i hold no actual stance except tasteless offensive humor so dont write twenty pages of defensive feminist, equal opportunity self-righteous blarghity snore stuff)

          But seriously ladies, work on those bodies and u can get a 4.0.

    • Anonymous  

      oh good! victim-blaming, how progressive and original of you!

  2. um

    Paul Martin is my advisor. I know it's unfair to blame either side but, he's just so...awesome. He really cares, and reading this is so upsetting. For him to go through the shitstorm or for him to really have a fishy side noone knows about...WHY WORLD, WHY

  3. Anonymous

    Why would she file a lawsuit instead of going to the police? Seems fishy

  4. Wow

    I hate that some girls will go to such extreme lengths to flatter themselves even if it means they must discredit and sully the reputation of a man of actual importance in the process. A man who has contributed so much to society should not have his entire career discredited by an utterly invented claim from a sexually repressed student, let alone a SIPA student of all things. Wow, Laura Williams, get over yourself. And thank you for tarnishing the career of an honest man just for your own self-validation.

    • are you kidding me?  

      This is just such a sexist, unfounded, horrible thing to say. I...can't even respond to you right now in the way that I think is necessary, but I'm just so saddened that you have such an unhealthy and hurtful view of women. For now, I'll just say that it scares me that you think "a man of actual importance" in the public sphere has more value than a female student.

    • Anonymous  

      anyone who likes this comment pretty much 100% proves their utter misogyny. I'm not fucking kidding, for you to agree with this is basically admitting absolute hatred and distaste for women.

      • Anonymous  

        Criticizing "some girls" does not necessarily mean one hates all women. That would be like saying you're a misandrist (SAT words ftw) simply because you don't like how lots of men treat their girlfriends, or something like that.

        That being said, it was an incredibly stupid and odd comment.

        Philosoraptor question: Is one a misogynist if you hate men just as much and are just as asshole? Or is it the difference that matters? Just curious..

  5. Come on now  

    Blah blah blah aggressive feminism blah blah blah

  6. Anonymous  

    AHHH SO MUCH RAPE CULTURE. Can you all fucking STOP with the victim blaming and WAIT as more details come out instead of relying on tired tropes such as "hurr durr girls use sex to get things when they are too stupid to get good grades" and "anything a woman says to discredit a man is obviously a lie because men are awesome and never do anything wrong ever except that 1 in 6 women on average are raped in the US and it's usually by men they know whooooooops"

    • actually  

      1 in 6 women are raped by women they don't know. 2 in 1 women are raped by men the know.

      your statistics are beyond bogus.

    • Anonymous

      "Rape Culture"? I don't think we should give yet another opaque name to what is rather continued misogyny, misunderstanding, and misinformed response to poor reporting. Reacting in this way ("can you all fucking STOP with the victim blaming") is nearly as bad as suggesting, ridiculously and ignorantly, that enough girls "will go to such extreme lengths to flatter themselves even if it means they must discredit and sully the reputation of a man of actual importance" that it even merits mentioning here.

      • Anonymous  

        lol way to be a fauxmenist. rape culture isn't some bullshit word, it's the lived reality of being a woman in a world in which rape is assumed to either not exist or assume to be DESIRED because women are either asking for it/conniving/sluts/have ulterior motives/are jezebels etc etc. It's a perfect term because it acknowledges that the problem of rape is not the fault of the survivor but of the CULTURE in which it took place, a culture that tacitly allows it and encourages it to happen, a culture in which someone saying that blaming the victim is AWFUL is equated with telling a woman that being raped is flattering. you sicken me.

        • Anonymous

          I'm sorry, you must have understood my post. I agree with you on almost every point, I just don't think the terminology is the best way to address the problem. Your post is quite clear in outlining the issues we have; "rape culture," while perhaps clear to you, is not the clearest term for the problem. We may live in a culture that facilitates, invites, and then ignores rape -- but the term "rape culture" seems to general to explain this well enough.

  7. Anonymous  

    No one should take advantage of another individual either via harassment or defamation. Any individual should not be discouraged to step forward and defend their rights regardless of their gender and REGARDLESS OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK.

  8. Anonymous  

    According to her Linkedin, she was a student in the school of social work from 2006-2008, so it would have happened years ago.

  9. Anonymous  

    Wow, it's kind of amazing that you are so willing to pass such a harsh judgement on a person you don't know from a hole in the wall. I would hope that if something horrible and terrifying like sexual harassment by a professor ever happened to me, people would believe me or at least not pass judgement until they knew all the facts, but I guess that's not the case. Way to make it feel very unsafe for a woman to speak up against harassment on this campus. I'm assuming you've never been harassed in such a way, or felt at risk of such harassment, because if someone ever said something like that to you and you had, you would feel sick to your stomach.

  10. where's mine?

    Why aren't these offers ever on the table when *I* need a better grade? I'd gladly trade sex for some academic favoritism.

    • oy  

      This isn't about consensual sex, this is about sexual harassment. This prof (allegedly) used his position of power to try to coerce a student into doing something she didn't want to do. No one wants to be assaulted, even if it would result in a some minor favorable circumstance. The emotional/physical/mental affects of assault are WAY greater than the value of a grade. Maybe your tone here is ironic, but it still makes light of the fact that sexual harassment and assault are completely unacceptable.

    • yea

      I'd suck cock any day of the week for an A..... I hope that doesn't make me gay.

  11. gay

    Some SIPA profs are hot! Sadly, Joseph Paul Martin isn't one of them.

  12. hey bwog  

    Can you remove the tag "sex" on this post? This isn't story isn't about sex, it's about sexual harassment. Tagging it "sex" diminishes the seriousness of the issue and reinforces the idea that sexual harassment and assault have more to do with sex than with an abuse of power and privilege.

  13. Anonymous

    She was found cheating. She was lucky she wasn't expelled. God, knows who she would have sued if that happened.

  14. nwbar

    We're never going to know any facts.

    From the Spec coverage going through all the court documents (hey, sometimes Spec gets it right) it doesn't look like there's any paper trail , so it boils down to he-said, she-said. Of course, later there will be accounts from classmates and professors she's close to which give support to her story, and accounts from those professors and students close to Prof. Martin which undermine it. It's back to square one, and there's never going to be anything more than that. She's suing GSAS Dean Henry Pinkham and Assistant Dean Darice Birge as well, so this is big enough that Columbia, even if it's not a specific plaintiff, is going to step in and engineer some kind of settlement with a gag order just to get it out of the news. It's then going to conduct an internal investigation designed to find out nothing one way or the other. That investigation will succeed in it's task, and it won't be too hard, because there's nothing concrete. No one will know anything more after this, except what everyone already believes they know because they believe women use their sexuality as leverage or would never, ever lie.

    The Justice System falls on its face when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault. Rape is common and rarely reported. While the statistics you hear about rape don't have any scientific basis (they've just been requoted from a few massively flawed studies in the 1950's enough that they're conventional wisdom, and in any case you're never going to be able to get accurate reporting on something people are too ashamed to admit). The basic theme hold true: lots of rape, little reporting. I've had a number of friends confide to me that they'd been a victim and none ever pressed charges because they just didn't want to deal with it, were ashamed, and felt like nothing would come of it if they did.

    That said, even though you don't want to put the victim on trial, and it's terrible to accuse a woman of lying about something like that, it still happens (see: Duke Lacrosse). That can't be brushed off as a one-time exception to "no woman would ever."

    In almost any case there can't be any real justice. Unless there's massively more evidence, you're stuck believing in either a victim denied justice or an innocent man's reputation forever ruined. The solution isn't to blame the victim, or to presume guilt (a fate which Prof. Martin has avoided somewhat, simply because he's respectable and likeable. Try imaging him as a TA you don't like accused of the same thing). I could maybe put up a wall of cliches about changing the culture here, and everyone would think it was great and there would be thumbs up aplenty, but "changing the culture" is a cotton-candy solution, wonderful and appealing to everyone but without any real substance.

    No, the first step is to keep the basic fact raw in your mind for as long as possible without trying to fit it into a big sweeping narrative: the fact that there will be no justice for anyone in this, or for just about any trial involving sexual harassment or assault (let alone the victims who don't bring charges), and that no one has any idea what to do about it.

  15. Anonymous  

    Bwog, you cannot report just on the content of an irrelevant publication like the Post. If you say that professor x allegedly did y, readers have a tendency to blot out the word "allegedly." This professor's career and personal life can be marred forever without his ever being proven guilty. Within the Columbia community especially, you have the power to make him guilty in the eyes of others. But in the United States, a person is not guilty until proven otherwise in a court of law.

    We all remember the recent sexual harassment case of Dominique Strauss Kahn. Not well liked in all circles, sure, but forever barred from any legitimate public position because of something he was not proven to have done. Shame.

    • HAHAHA

      Oh, people were all in a fluff because DSK allegedly sexually harassed a woman? So that's what they're calling forced oral sex nowadays. I was under the impression that that was rape. Good to know!

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