The facts that the prosecution considered as a felony at a later point, were still prosecutable when, in 2009, teacher LP sent an official letter to the institution, when the case of student AV was specifically denounced, and when the University began their series of three enquiry commissions. However, they were unprosecutable when, on October 5th, 2012, the University informed the Public Prosecutor’s Office. This has generated serious problems up to this day to old and new victims, as well as to the people who support them.
On November 25th, 2009, coinciding with the World Day against Gender Violence, teacher LP sent a letter to the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the time, in which she specified that the structure of the Master’s and Doctorate in Sociology fostered “three types of pressure. The first one is sexual pressure; not responding to insinuations or not accepting tutoring outside the UB facilities where the professor choose, could have serious consequences for the students’ qualification, even though, without any doubt, the director would then justify the grades with academic criteria and obtain the endorsement of the Faculty”. In this same letter it had already been mentioned that “there is no top quality University in the world with a process like this or even similar”. LP never received a reply.
Almost two years later, on September 26th 2011, AV, a master’s student, asked Professor RF for help after showing him an email from Professor JdM. RF filed a complaint attaching this email, and clarified that “the recipient of the email agrees to send it, as well as to talk to you and to whom is necessary to solve a situation that has lasted for years and years, affecting a lot of both female and male students. Because the aforementioned professor also adds to his signature the badge of one of the most recognised Universities in the world, Harvard, I feel that, under a professional and ethical obligation, I must also inform Harvard University of this situation, specifically their Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response”. On October 5th, 2011, the Faculty Equality Committee evaluated the letter and the email and decided that there was no case. On October 19th Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response sent an email to the Dean saying that Professor JdM could insert the name of Harvard University in his communications. Henceforth, in view of the scandal that this could produce at an international University level, on October 26th, the Faculty Equality Commission met again and decided to initiate the case. But it was not until one year later, on October 5th, 2012, when the University sent the case to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In September 2013, the complaint was then barred by the statute of limitations, even though in the prosecutor’s report, the facts were recognized as felony conduct of sexual harassment.
The filing of this case was a consequence of the University’s negligence, since no response was given at the time of receiving the first complaint in 2009 and nothing was done until three years after, just when the felonies were barred by the statute of limitations. The non-response of the university and the subsequent filing of the case opened the door to the immunity of the denounced professor in very different fields. Years later, news appeared in Mexico’s newspapers publicly denouncing abuses of power and harassment carried out by the same professor. This shows that the structure of silence has serious consequences wherever it goes, concealed by such impunity. The power connections then further extended, succeeding at stopping a student campaign of protest against his reincorporation in university, diverting the focus of attention and attacking people who had always positioned themselves against gender violence in University.
Another consequence of this immunity, given by the institution itself, was recently seen when he was selected as one of the appointers for the Princess of Asturias Awards. This once again proves that, when a case of gender violence is not dealt with as it should once it is detected, silence and attacks on the victims increase and strengthen. The result of this all is very serious, for the victims, for the people who position themselves with them and, of course, for the name of the institutions that hides it.
* 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.