Harvard University Lawsuit




Case Description

Case Type: Gender Discrimination/Title IX/Civil Rights/Equal Rights
Organization: Harvard University
Filed: February 8, 2022

Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a lawsuit on February 8, 2022, against Harvard University and the President and Fellows of Harvard College. The Complaint alleges that Harvard violated Title IX and Massachusetts Civil Rights and Common laws by willfully ignoring a near-decade-long pattern of sexual harassment and retaliation by tenured Anthropology Professor John Comaroff against three female graduate students in Harvard’s Anthropology Department. The Complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of the three students, Margaret Czerwienski, Lilia Kilburn, and Amulya Mandeva.

The Complaint alleges that Harvard failed to protect the three students from Professor Comaroff’s harassment, retaliation and abuse of power and have all been forced to radically alter their fields of study and pursuit of their degrees.

Beginning in 2017, the complaint alleges, Professor Comaroff, a renowned anthropologist with deep connections in his field, repeatedly and forcibly kissed Ms. Kilburn, groped her in public, graphically and bizarrely imagined her rape and murder aloud, cut her off from other professors, and derailed her degree progress. Further, when Ms. Czerwienski and Ms. Mandava warned other female students and reported Professor Comaroff to Harvard’s Title IX office and Office of Dispute Resolution, the university failed to act as Prof. Comaroff retaliated, in part, by ensuring that Ms. Czerwienski and Ms. Mandava would have “trouble getting jobs.”

The Complaint asserts that Harvard’s conduct violates Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act, and Massachusetts’s prohibition on sexual harassment in educational institutions. The Complaint also alleges that Harvard was negligent in its supervision and retention of Professor John Comaroff; that Harvard committed breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and that Harvard violated Massachusetts law by obtaining and disseminating Ms. Kilburn’s therapy records without her consent.

The Complaint requests a jury trial.

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