Oxford professor banned from teaching over sexual harassment claims

Married Oxford history professor, 61, is banned from teaching over sexual harassment claims after ‘inviting students to the pub and telling one he wanted to tie her to a chair’

  • Oxford professor has agreed not to teach following sexual harassment claims 
  • Dr Peter Thompson, 61, is accused of sexual harassment by a former student   
  • Students are now calling for Thompson to be sacked following his behaviour 

An Oxford university history professor has been banned from teaching following allegations of sexual harassment.

Peter Thompson, 61, who is a fellow of St Cross College and the Sydney L Mayer associate professor of American history, has been accused by former student, Kaelyn Apple, 26, of sexual harassment after telling her he wanted to ‘tie her to a chair’.

Following an internal investigation by the university, Thompson has agreed to not to attend any events or have any contact with students after it upheld allegations of sexual harassment against him.

Apple, an American postgraduate who is now studying at Yale, claimed that at times, she felt ‘uncomfortable’ and at times, ‘unsafe’ around Thompson and admitted the ordeal has had a ‘lasting impact on her mental health’.

Dr Peter Thompson, 61, (Pictured) who is a fellow of St Cross College and the Sydney L Mayer associate professor of American history, has agreed not to have any contact with students this year following allegations of sexual harassment

Former student, Kaelyn Apple, 26, (Pictured) said that she learnt to keep her distance from Thompson and it ‘broke her heart’ because it tainted her university experience

Thompson, who has been at the university for almost 30 years, allegedly made a sexual remark to Apple whilst he was at the pub with students during a meeting in 2019, according to The Sunday Times.

Apple claimed that he remarked: ‘Kaelyn, is there nothing we can do to keep you here for a D Phil [Doctor of Philosophy]. Perhaps I should tie you to a chair in the Weston library?’ 

She added: ‘I did not want to be in his presence after that. I have felt uncomfortable and, at times, unsafe around Dr Thompson and wish for no other student to have to experience this.’   

Speaking on the Al-Jazeera podcast, the former student said that she learnt to keep her distance from Thompson and the ordeal ‘broke her heart’ because it tainted her university experience.

She said: ‘That broke my heart because I am somebody who really values my education and values my experiences and networking opportunities.’  

Mia Liyanage, who also spoke on the podcast, detailed an ‘intense’ experience Apple had with Thompson that led to him asking her for a drink.

She said: ‘In one of the classes, he leant over her to read what was on her laptop screen and she quickly shoved her laptop away so he would not be so close to her. that was a really intense moment.

‘He followed up with an email and asked her to meet him at his office in his college and then he suggested they go to the pub over the road for a drink. 

‘She put bag in between the seat, and when he returned with his pint, he moved the bag off of the seat and moved closer to her and sat down.’   

Students are now calling for the professor to be sacked following more students coming forward with complaints about his behaviour. 

Last week, an email was sent to all students and staff by the history faculty admitting that an investigation was being carried out into Thompson, and ‘follow-on disciplinary action was instigated’.

It upheld an allegation of sexual harassment and found that Thompson did drink during his work hours.

According to the faculty chairman, Professor Rob Iliffe, Thompson has subsequently agreed to ‘not to have any contact with students this year or to attend events at the history faculty’.

Apple (Pictured) claimed that Thompson remarked: ‘Kaelyn, is there nothing we can do to keep you here for a D Phil [Doctor of Philosophy]. Perhaps I should tie you to a chair in the Weston library?’

In response to the allegations, Thompson said yesterday that the comment made to Apple about ‘tying you to a chair’ was a joking comment’ that ‘badly misfired.

He added: ‘The account of the conversation in the King’s Arms about supervision doesn’t tally with my recollection but does pretty accurately reflect what was submitted to the inquiry. What you are reporting is what the university’s disciplinary hearings saw and ruled on.’ 

Thompson’s wife Andrea, 62, who also works at Oxford, said ‘he is not a sexual predator’ in response to the allegations. 

A spokesman for Oxford said: ‘While we cannot comment on individual cases for reasons of confidentiality, the University of Oxford takes all allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct by staff extremely seriously. 

‘The University does not tolerate any form of harassment and is committed to promoting a positive environment where students and staff are treated fairly and with respect.  

‘We are listening and responding to the concerns and questions that our students have raised about sexual harassment complaints in recent days. 

‘Over the next few weeks, we will be meeting students from the faculties where concerns have been raised to discuss these issues in greater detail and explore areas where improvements can be made, to ensure Oxford is a place where all our students feel they can be secure and respected. 

‘The safety and welfare of all our staff and students remains Oxford’s top priority at all times.’

Peter Thompson has been contacted for comment.

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