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How to beat a campus sexual-harassment rap: Be a big-time”global-justice” guru at Yale

August 4, 2016

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Global-justice warrior Thomas Pogge: How would you like him sleeping on your lap?


When I met him at a conference I didn’t think he’d remember me, so I was surprised when he sent me an email, prompting a regular exchange between us. He told me he’ll be coming to visit the city where I lived and invited me to his hotel. We talked for hours about philosophy and shared personal anecdotes. I remember worrying about the possibility that he must already have someone in his life, and my friends reassuring me that he wouldn’t be inviting me to his room if he did. He must be a good man, this moral philosopher. He has, after all, devoted his life to global justice. Towards the end of his visit, he gave me a rose, took me to a concert, and dinner. I took it as a sign, and, when we returned to his hotel, I declared I was staying. When I asked him if he had protection, he replied that he hasn’t had sex for many years, and that I shouldn’t worry about it.”

“The second time he visited City X, he opened the door to his hotel room naked and told me he’s been sleeping. I asked him if he always slept naked, and he said that, because he lives by himself, he always sleeps naked.”


“The third time he was visiting City X, we decided he would stay in my apartment. While we were lying on my couch, I expressed astonishment about being with him, my global justice hero, and told him about how I worried that someone as amazing as him would already have someone in his life. He admitted he’s been with the same woman for several decades, before I was even born. I was shocked by this revelation. How could he extol honesty, whilst omitting this crucially relevant information?”


[M]eanwhile, a former Yale undergrad named Fernanda Lopez Aguilar came under Pogge’s spell–or he came under her spell, or whatever. Here’s her story, from Buzzfeed:

“Lopez Aguilar said she felt a little uncomfortable, but chalked it up to cultural differences. So she told herself it was normal to discuss her thesis on a bike ride with him and at his home, alone. She thought it was strange that he wanted to crash at the Washington, D.C., apartment where she planned to live with her boyfriend over the summer — Pogge was ‘very tired’ of wasting grant money, he explained — but she told him he was more than welcome….

“Pogge also asked her to be his interpreter during a conference in Chile shortly after graduation, adding that she could stay in a hostel or was ‘welcome’ to stay in his hotel room if she was ‘comfortable doing so; we can upgrade the room.’ Lopez Aguilar said she didn’t want to make demands, so she offered to sleep on a cot or bring a sleeping bag, but she always expected that he would book them in separate rooms. When she arrived at the hotel, she found that there was only one, but still didn’t think it was her place to object.

“’He was my mentor,” Lopez Aguilar said. ‘Now I see that I was naive, but I thought he actually appreciated me for my intellect.'”


Pogge faced a disciplinary hearing at Yale, but in the end the committee found “insufficient evidence of sexual harassment,” even though, according to the New York Times:

“Professor Pogge, whose scholarship focuses on theories of global justice, said in a telephone interview that he had engaged in ‘some definitely inappropriate’ behavior, such as sleeping on Ms. Lopez’s lap on a flight and sharing a single hotel room with her, and he denied the harassment charges.”


Posted by Charlotte Allen



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