June 21, 2015 1:41:31 am
St Stephen’s College principal Valson Thampu on Saturday denied charges that he dismissed the woman’s complaint of sexual harassment against a professor when the matter was brought to his notice.
“The woman approached me with a written complaint of sexual harassment. I advised her to take it to the internal complaint committee, but she refused and said she wanted help in completing her PhD thesis. A week later, her parents met me and requested me not to file a complaint of sexual harassment because it would tar their daughter’s reputation and that she be helped to complete her PhD course,” Thampu said.
“I assured to help her to my fullest capabilities. I called the woman and the accused to my office. The complainant at the time uttered not a word against the accused. I asked her if she wanted her supervisor changed. She refused, though I asked the university if the superviser could be replaced. The university said there was no such provision,” he said.
Thampu said on January 9, 2015, the woman came to him with a written complaint, repeating her allegation against the professor. “She also wrote that she had completed 80 per cent of her thesis and did not want to change her superviser. And she wrote that she did not want this to be treated as a case of sexual assault. I raised the fact that an allegation of sexual assault was very serious. She asked me to return the written complaint and submitted a fresh one, changing the word ‘assault’ to ‘harassment’,” he said.
“Then, on January 10, she came back to my office and said she wished to take back the complaint she had submitted to Delhi University’s head of the department of chemistry. I told her that she must revert within three days or I would forward the complaint to St Stephen’s College’s complaints committee, which I did on January 14. After this, I asked the professor not to meet the woman. I too did not meet her because I am not supposed to intervene or meet a party concerned once their complaint is pending investigation in the internal committee,” he said.
Dr Karen Gabriel, media adviser for St Stephen’s College, termed the “leaking” of the sexual harassment complaint a case which has turned into a “trial by media, which is both dangerous and unfortunate because people’s lives are involved”. “We are bound by the tenets of ensuring the confidentiality of the case, the complainant and the accused. But the case has been leaked out to the media and names are being bandied about loosely,” Karen, also the presiding officer of the internal complaint committee of the college, said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines