Re­prieve for Cam­bridge don branded a sex pest

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Michael Pow­ell

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.

AC­CUSERS: Cleodie Rickard and So­phie New­bery. Right: Dr Peter Hutchin­son

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