Top SA professor, branded ‘Harvard sex pest’, faces sexual assault lawsuit

Students at one of the most prestigious universities on the planet have filed a sexual assault case against Harvard-based John Comaroff – a leading anthropology professor originally from Cape Town.

Who is Professor John Comaroff? Harvard students protest against ‘sex pest’ academic

Professor Comaroff is accused of a litany of bad behaviours, including ‘unwanted sexual contact’ with some of his students. He’s also alleged to have verbally harassed some learners, while threatening them with ‘professional retaliation’ – a process which would have seen the SA national discredit and obstruct the careers of his accusers.

This week, on-campus protests at Harvard have been held against John Comaroff:

Today, my peers and fellow @hgsuuaw members marched in the yard to protest the way @Harvard has handled the sexual harassment case against John Comaroff and demand #RealRecourse for survivors.

The bare minimum a university should do is protect its students. We deserve better. pic.twitter.com/N3SSyDYyiH

— Rachel Jacoby (@rachelajacoby) February 15, 2022

What is John Comaroff accused of?

The lawsuit filed against the professor contains a number of shocking details – featuring one alarming conversation he allegedly had with an LGBTQI+ student. It’s claimed that Comaroff dismissed her desire to go and work in Africa, claiming that she would be subjected to ‘corrective rape’. According to the court files, this wasn’t his first time mentioning this.

Victims have been left frustrated by the university’s own investigation into the accused, which has so far failed to substantiate evidence of any physical sexual assault. Their cause wasn’t helped when 38 fellow professors signed a letter in support of Comaroff – but the tide has since changed from within Harvard’s faculty.

Harvard lecturers withdraw support for accused professor

It’s understood that 35 signatories have taken their name off the letter, after learning more about the case. Nonetheless, protesters see this initial stance as an obstruction of justice, claiming that ‘the damage had already been done’.

The probe into John Comaroff is ongoing, and although many details remain private, the official complaint have been made public:

You should really read the complaint against Harvard sex pest and renowned ‘Africanist’ John Comaroff. Especially the part where Harvard acquires one woman’s therapist’s notes and gives them to her abuser. https://t.co/p8kKNS3nAJ

— Dan Greene (@Greene_DM) February 8, 2022

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