BREAKING: Three Psychology Professors Under Criminal Investigation

This morning, October 31st, President Hanlon sent a campus-wide email announcing that three  Dartmouth professors are undergoing a criminal investigation for allegations of “sexual misconduct.”  On the 25th, the College had released a statement that these three professors were under investigation for “serious misconduct.” The professors, Todd Heatherton, Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen, all teach in the psychology department and are currently on paid leave with their access to campus restricted.

All of this was restated in President Hanlon’s email, though he omitted the professors names. Hanlon also added a statement that Dartmouth is cooperating with the state and local investigation while conducting an internal investigation of their own.

The key difference between these two statements was that this morning Hanlon confirmed that this alleged misconduct is of a sexual nature.  The October 25th statement was extremely vague in this regard, and consequently lead to much conversation around campus about what the term “serious misconduct” could mean. President Hanlon’s email appeared to discourage this kind of conversation. He went to great lengths to remind students and other community members that “these investigations our ongoing, with no official findings yet.”

This has not stopped anyone from obsessing over this news.  The revelation of this potential “sexual misconduct” has been a topic of constant conversation on campus today. Perhaps most alarmingly for the administration, national news sources latched onto this story almost immediately following President Hanlon’s email.  The New York Times and Cosmopolitan, among others, released articles on these allegations barely an hour following this announcement. In fact, that many students learned of this development through national publications before they even opened President Hanlon’s email.

In anticipation of this onslaught of negative attention facing the College, President Hanlon reaffirmed Dartmouth’s commitment to a safe and healthy community free of this kind of behavior, writing that “Sexual misconduct and harassment are unacceptable and have no place at Dartmouth. Such acts harm us as individuals and as members of the community.”

Additionally, President Hanlon referred students seeking assistance or additional information to Dartmouth’s sexual respect website. This was coupled with a statement from the New Hampshire Attorney General, Gordon MacDonald, that, “at this time, we have no basis to conclude that there is a threat to the general public.”  Both men went out of their way to convey that Dartmouth is prepared to move past this news swiftly. Unfortunately for President Hanlon and Mr. MacDonald, given the current political climate surrounding sexual crimes,  the news today is likely only the tip of the iceberg for this scandal.

 

  • Joseph Asch ’79

    Links to the NYT and Cosmo pieces?