Fifteen years before the current international movement #MeToo, another break in silence began in Spanish Universities. One of the denounced professors enjoyed thirty years of impunity for committing the kind of acts we herewith detail. Everything I disclose here has already appeared in other newspapers, radio and television stations. There is much more stuff, but I cannot publish it yet; being the first victim filing a complaint against this professor with so much power in the University context, I have been and still am very persecuted; still, that is not I am concerned for because I have a growing and wonderful support from journalists, students, teachers and my family. What worries me is that, in view of the many complicities regarding harassment in our Universities and other institutions, if I were to make certain things public now, whoever attacked me could become the victim and denounce me, he could even get a judge’s support to convict me instead of him or her.
The daily paper El País published some of the courageous testimonies contained in a report by the prosecutor’s office which considered that this man had allegedly committed crimes but they had expired at the time the University sent them the complaint. A student was allegedly harassed by the professor with emails of high sexual content: “I want to see you… I love you very much… For a 60-year-old boy like me a lot of frantic activity in bed… Sex is an excellent way of communication… Come one day to my house… My life is an orgasm, girl!” A student was asked to take pictures of his torso and back, as well as a to give a massage first wearing his clothes and then without them. On another occasion, in his underwear, he massaged the young man and grabbed his penis.
A cascade of complaints made it possible for him to be unable to carry on with his behaviour within our University, but he managed to reach the end of his retirement without any disciplinary measures. The sensation of impunity generates that similar complaints appear in other Universities of other countries with the same professor involved. In the Proceso, a weekly Mexican publication, it appeared that students specified that women were asked to give him photos of their naked torso or to accept his obscene propositions, in exchange for higher marks in the Masters’ course. In another email to one of the students he writes: “Please send me a picture of your banana”. In another one he says: “In sunny Barcelona, almost Easter holidays, I miss you, I imagine you enjoying life, reading, masturbating every day, dreaming of you, many kisses on the tip of your dick” (sic).
In subsequent articles in this series we will explain why a professor could have behaved this way for 30 years and remain in office until retirement, why he can continue to do so now in another country. We will report the university structures that protect this despicable behaviour, the mechanisms these structures have to try to destroy us as victims, the collaboration with the harassers of the sensationalist press, the active or passive complicity of the University teaching staff. And we will also report on the good people who, in their newspapers, radio and television stations, Universities, Justice systems, etc., courageously support the victims and succeed in making us stop feeling as victims and also that, far from being destroyed, we enjoy the success to which our professional capacity and ethics lead us.
* This article is part of Omerta in the University, a series of publications that address the fierce law of silence generated in some Universities concerning sexual harassment.