The Mail on Sunday
Reprieve for Cambridge don branded a sex pest
A DISGRACED Cambridge don banned from his college over claims he sexually harassed ten female students has been allowed to return two years later.
Dr Peter Hutchinson was barred from Trinity Hall and from contacting students in 2017 after a string of allegations were made against him by young women. But, to the dismay of his victims, the college announced he would be welcomed back last night.
Dr Hutchinson, 74, a former vicemaster at the prestigious college, quit teaching and issued a public apology for his ‘thoughtless, insensitive and offensive’ behaviour in 2017 after students claimed he had made ‘inappropriate, sexual and sexist comments’ during seminars and social events.
The modern and medieval languages don was accused of offering a ‘big kiss’ to one undergraduate on her birthday, made comments about her clothing and asked a group of four students if they would ‘sleep their way to the top’ during a film night he hosted at his house.
The married academic also allegedly asked his students if they had ‘ever had any love bites’. While discussing the subject of a dominatrix in a book, he asked a female student: ‘Does that turn you on?’
After an internal investigation, Trinity Hall announced Dr Hutchinson had ‘withdrawn permanently from any further involvement with college affairs’ and would ‘not be present in college at any time in the future’. But yesterday the college said its statement was ‘incorrect’ and that Dr Hutchinson would now be allowed back to ‘attend certain college events’.
The college said Dr Hutchinson had automatically became an emeritus fellow upon his retirement, which meant he could not be banned from campus after all. The archaic rules mean Trinity Hall could have faced legal action from Dr Hutchinson if it did not allow him to return, according to the BBC.
One of his accusers, Sophie Newbery, 23, who graduated in German and Russian in 2018, said the decision was ‘a slap in the face’. Another, Cleodie Rickard, 23, who graduated in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in 2018, said she was ‘outraged’. Both women said t he college authorities had failed to notify them of its decision.
In a statement, Trinity Hall said: ‘ Dr Hutchinson will continue to attend certain college events and to exercise his dining rights, but will not attend events primarily aimed at students or alumni except by agreement with the college.’
Dr Hutchinson said that there had been ‘ no legal finding of harassment’ by the college authorities and emphasised that it was an internal investigation. He was previously cleared of groping a former students in 2005. He admitted at Cambridge Crown Court that he twice patted his accuser on her bottom but denied sexual assaulting her.