English Professor’s sabbatical extended through next semester amidst sexual harassment allegations

Three allegations have now been brought against John Casey

ns-JohnCasey-CourtesyUVA

Three former University students have come forward this month accusing English Prof. John Casey of sexual and gender-based harassment. 

Courtesy University of Virginia | Courtesy University of Virginia

English Prof. John Casey will not return to teach classes next semester, as the University continues to investigate three Title IX complaints alleging sexual and gender-based harassment. 

The complaints were brought against Casey by former students Sharon Harrigan, Emma Eisenberg and one other woman who has not been named. 

Eisenberg alleged in her complaint that Casey “repeatedly touched [her] and other female MFA fiction students on [their] shoulders, buttocks, and lower backs and made sexual and gender-based comments.”

A notice released by the University also references another woman who filed a complaint shortly after Eisenberg and claimed that Casey “repeatedly made comments about her looks, outfits and sex appeal.” This is alleged to have taken place from 2009 to 2010 while she was earning her MFA in Creative Writing. 

Harrigan, who was the third woman to file a complaint, said she took Casey’s fiction workshop as a community member in spring 2010. The class was composed of undergraduate students, poetry students in the University’s Master of Fine Arts program and community members. She was in her 40’s at the time.  

In her complaint, Harrigan alleges Casey “openly flirted” with younger students in the class, “ranked the women in the class by their relative attractiveness” and asked female students in the class if they had chosen their outfits “for him.”

Casey is currently on a scheduled sabbatical and has not been teaching classes this semester. University President Teresa Sullivan said his sabbatical will continue through next semester during an interview with The Cavalier Daily on Friday. 

“Professor Casey is not teaching this semester because he’s been on research leave as I understand, and it has seemed prudent to extend that sabbatical into next semester as well while the investigation’s going on,” Sullivan said. “That’s for everybody’s protection, including his.”

Sullivan said the complaint will be handled according to University policy for sexual and gender-based harassment, which was approved by the Department of Education.

“We have a well articulated policy,” Sullivan said. “We will follow it faithfully. It does preserve due process for the accused. It also gives the complainant an opportunity to see all the evidence, ask questions and make sure their side is well heard … We do take these things seriously.”

Casey did not return The Cavalier Daily’s request for comment for this update. He previously said in response to the other two complaints that he would not comment on the matter because it is “sub judice,” which refers to something that is yet to be decided in a judicial proceeding. 

related stories