President Zulma R. Toro today announced significant personnel and organizational changes on Jan. 22 following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Theatre Professor Joshua Perlstein involving several students. The investigation included alleged misconduct by Theatre Professor Thomas Delventhal.
The findings from the nine-month investigation by the law firm Shipman & Goodwin LLP included reviewing thousands of documents, emails, and texts and interviews with dozens of faculty, staff, and current and former students. New information, supporting many of the claims of sexual misconduct reported in the University’s student newspaper, The Recorder, was uncovered.
“I am disgusted and disheartened by the new findings indicating two of our professors repeatedly engaged in sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior with their students,” President Toro stated in reaction to three reports submitted by the investigative team. “Also disturbing are the apparent failures by administrators who, over the years, did not protect our students. The findings pinpoint vital changes that are needed to ensure past misbehaviors, mistakes, and inaction are not repeated at this University.”
In April 2018, The Recorder highlighted a number of concerns and complaints about Perlstein, some of which dated back over a decade. President Toro immediately placed him on administrative leave and retained Shipman & Goodwin to conduct an impartial and thorough investigation. Concurrently, she appointed the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct, Bullying, & Campus Climate to conduct a comprehensive examination of the processes and procedures related to the reporting and handling of sexual misconduct and bullying issues on campus.
The investigation findings related specifically to Perlstein include: significant evidence that he had a history of questionable interactions with female students; that he was involved in sexual misconduct with one or more students; he was untruthful about the extended period of time he was involved in a sexual relationship with a student; and he attempted to conceal his problematic conduct because it would “put his job in jeopardy.”
Based on the investigators’ analyses and conclusions, President Toro also found it necessary to place Delventhal on administrative leave last week and began the process, required by collective bargaining agreement, to dismiss both Delventhal and Perlstein. You can read the investigation reports here.
Following up on student complaints about Delventhal, the investigators report that he admitted to, over the years, kissing five students on the neck and/or forehead, was untruthful during his investigatory interview, denied attempting to engage in any relationship with current or former students, and did not admit to recently reaching out to a former student to clear the air regarding their past relationship.
In addition to several procedural changes instituted last spring and the impending dismissal of the two professors, Dr. Toro will oversee the reengineering of the Office of Diversity & Equity and the Human Resources Department. As part of that process, she soon will be announcing the appointment of new leadership for the Office of Diversity and Equity.
President Toro also is moving ahead with the following initiatives:
Some of the changes are and will be guided by the final report submitted by the task force. Additional information about the task force and its final report are available here.
“To those who bravely shared their stories with our investigators, I am immensely grateful,” the President shared in an email to the campus this morning. “This has been a painful process for all of those involved. I am resolved to take the actions necessary to ensure our campus is a safe environment for all and to restore faith and pride in Connecticut’s oldest public institution of higher education.”
President Toro also emphasized that she is counting on the help and support of the Central family to achieve substantive, lasting change to the campus culture.