Oxford University hit by string of sexual assault cases

Published Aug 10, 2015, 1:40 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 6:27 am IST
It is considered off-limits for a professor to have a relationship with a student in US
Oxford University (Photo: AFP/ File)
 Oxford University (Photo: AFP/ File)

London: A student has filed a complaint with Oxford University that she was sexually harassed by a male professor, which has been highlighted as the latest in a string of similar cases in the prestigious institution.

The woman in her 20's is one of about half a dozen students who have contacted the law firm McAllister Olivarius to complain about alleged inappropriate sexual behaviour at Oxford, 'The Sunday Times' reported today.


"Harassment and even rape seem to exist at epidemic levels and people are not reporting it at Oxford," Ann Olivarius, the lawyer representing the student who has filed the complaint, told the newspaper.

"We have a case where a woman was pitifully harassed by a guy who has slept with several students. There seem to be a number of academics who have done this. The men involved are all about 50 and not particularly attractive. This girl is young and beautiful," she said.

Olivarius has also been invited to informally advise Cambridge University, which last week introduced new policies against sexual harassment. "In the US it is considered off-limits for a professor to have a relationship with a student. Why does Oxford not put down such limits," she questioned.


The latest complaint is from an Oxford student, who is understood to have slept with a male professor several times before coming to the conclusion that he was a serial sexual predator.

The lawyer said she had advised the student to complain. American-born Olivarius said when she came to Oxford she was herself harassed by a professor who has since died.

"I went to Somerville College as a Rhodes scholar but was assigned a supervisor who I later found out from his wife was a serial sexual harasser, who felt it was acceptable to pursue and sleep with his female students," claimed Olivarius, who asked to switch supervisors.


A university spokesperson declined to discuss the new complaint but said Oxford would "always take any such allegation extremely seriously".

"All Oxford staff are now strongly? advised against close personal or intimate relationships with students (and) that such relationships can lead to disciplinary action," he said.

"Oxford will remain vigilant for incidents of sexual harassment (but) is confident that it has policies in place which support its commitment to a safe campus for all," the spokesman added.