Old Dominion University (ODU) in Virginia is launching an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct against Blake Bailey, a well-known writer and former visiting professor.
An article by The Virginian-Pilot, which has written extensively on the allegations, uncovered accusations that Bailey sexually harassed and abused four women during his time at ODU. Faculty and staff also claim that the administration did nothing to resolve the situation, despite repeated complaints.
Bailey is also facing allegations of sexual assault from two former middle school students in New Orleans and a book publishing executive. He has denied all the claims.
Mounting Another Investigation Into Blake Bailey
ODU President John R Broderick said that the administration is currently awaiting guidance from Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General.
“It is essential to me that we obtain a truly independent report on the matter and that we be able to assure our campus community that sexual harassment and other misconduct will not be tolerated,” Broderick wrote an email to Old Dominion University faculty, staff and students.
An investigation was previously launched into the allegations by John M Bredehoft of the law firm Kaufman & Canoles, who stated that the results of the probe “found no basis to believe that Mr Bailey engaged in similar conduct at ODU.”
“No report of any assault, attempted assault, or any other kind of sexual harassment was ever made by any of the people who are now making accusations a decade later,” he wrote.
However, Chair of the English Department, Sheri Reynolds, claimed that no professors were contacted by Bredehoft or his law firm.
“There were just individuals from English who were contacted by ODU Counsel (not the attorney who wrote the statement) and asked a series of questions. Those people would have had little, if any, context and would have almost certainly been caught off-guard by the questions,” Reynolds said.
Did Administrators Silence Bailey Victims?
Dr. Bridget Anderson, a linguistics professor at the university, is one of the more vocal in her claims against Bailey. She alleged that despite her complaints to the administration, nothing was done to prevent him from continuing to harass her.
“Nobody seemed to want to deal with him or his terrible behavior or confront him, so it made me feel like I was not safe in my workplace,” Anderson told Mace & Crown, the student publication of ODU.
Members of the ODU community expressed their support for victims in a written statement.
“We, as faculty, students, and staff, wish the public to know that the official statement released by ODU does not represent the beliefs of the community,” they wrote. “We therefore also write to express our support of Dr. Anderson and our other students and colleagues who have been failed by the institution in its response to sexual violence.”